Science and Technology News

Monday, December 10, 2012

McConnell earns two energy awards

by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

12/10/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Air Mobility Command announced Tuesday that McConnell won third place in the 2012 AMC Energy Incentive Awards. In addition, Rex Bluml, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron chief asset manager, won second place on the individual level.

Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and Travis AFB, Calif., came in first and second place, respectively.

The competition was meant to find and recognize the top people and bases in energy conservation and innovation.

"Renewable energy is always something we're interested in," said Maj. Robert Liu, 22nd CES acting commander. "Here in [the 22nd CES] compound, we're always experimenting to see if projects are feasible and will work out for us."

McConnell made strides in conserving water through leak detection and solar-powered ground water cleaning, trained 150 facility managers on the energy policy and won the Kansas Water Environment Association 2011 Gold Award for industrial water and wastewater operations.

"There are a lot of projects we've done," said Liu. "There are the direct digital controls we installed for air conditioning units on base, we're working on a smart metering project and the new digital thermometers in some buildings."

Bluml was also honored for being the "man behind-the-scenes" for many of the base's achievements throughout the year.

"We haven't had an actual dedicated energy manager in two years," said Bluml. "Myself and my supervisor fill in the role as best we can, so to have a program that is so robust that we're still able to garner an award says a lot about what we do here and how seriously we take energy."

Bluml managed the purchase of the water leak detector, which saved the base 3.6 million gallons of water, and trained the dozens of facility managers on the energy policy. He also spearheaded an in-house development of energy programs, saving McConnell thousands of dollars.

He emphasized that it was a team effort, instead of one individual's work, to accomplish everything that the base was recognized for.

"I've got a great group of people here to work with," said Bluml. "It's never about what one person's going to do; no one person will ever have all the answers. Having a team of people to collaborate with and come up with ideas is really the key to success."

The biggest energy project that the 22nd CES is working on involves an increase in wind power to the base.

A single wind turbine was installed outside of the 22nd CES utility shop in May 2012, to test the efficiency of the unit's powering capabilities. The success of the turbine has led the squadron to develop a plan to install several more on base.

"If those sites become feasible and we are able to get the wing generators installed on them," said Bluml, "that would be the largest-impact project that we will have done."

Awards such as the Energy Incentive Award motivate the Airmen on base to work hard and accomplish the mission. The 22nd CES will continue to work on making McConnell a more energy-efficient base, with demolition consolidation and reducing the carbon footprint on base are two of the major goals of the squadron over the next two years, said Liu.

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