Science and Technology News

Monday, November 19, 2012

Misawa's energy guru analyzes work centers for energy savings

by Tech. Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/19/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Many Misawa Air Base service members have heard the call to conserve energy and resources. Some have even signed pledges to be more energy efficient at work and home. Now, the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron has someone with one eye on the base's energy usage, and the other eye on a checklist.

Cari Schroeder, 35th CES resource efficiency manager, is the guru with the eyes on the energy prize. Armed with her small pickup truck, clipboard and an assistant, she performs spot inspections on the base's industrial buildings to include aircraft hangers, dorms, gyms and work centers.

Some of the discrepancies they look for are buildings that haven't been upgraded with motion sensors for lights, energy efficient light bulbs and low flow faucets. She also seeks out appliances that have been modified, decreasing their efficiency.

Some modifications include breaking automatic thermostat housings in order to manually regulate the heat, Schroeder said. She also looks for modified heaters. These heaters have had their thermostats removed or adjusted to keep them running hotter, longer. These heaters are not only less efficient but dangerous too.

"The reason we do building walkthroughs, is to look for no-cost or low-cost opportunities to make buildings more energy efficient and safe," said Schroeder. "My goal is to do a walkthrough for every building in the 35th Fighter Wing."

When Schroeder finds discrepancies or areas of improvement, she notifies the facility manager of the issues and gives recommendations on how to fix them. She also prepares work request orders for upgrades in previously inspected buildings.

"Inspections like this are good," said Junya Fujihashi, 35th Force Support Squadron Misawa Inn operations manager. "Sometimes you need someone to come around and check out how you're doing business."

During these inspections, Schroeder understands people forget to shut off the lights when they leave a room. On that note, she also understands that inspecting with an iron fist, or yelling at them about issues, isn't always the right way.

"The best thing we can do is to keep the lines of communication open," said Schroeder. "This is so the facility managers know we're their friends and not their enemies. The more we communicate with facility managers, the more likely they will reach out to us when there is a problem."

These inspections are not meant to burden units, but to change the way people think about energy usage, she added.

"It's nice to perform these inspections with someone who has been an energy manager for a while," said Kelly Sussman, assistant to the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron resource efficiency manager. "Experiences like this really open my eyes to my own energy usage at home. It also prepares people for when they need to go somewhere else and start paying for their own energy. It really makes us think of the future."

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