Energy conservation, efficiency priority for AFSPC

  • Published
  • By W. Fox Theriault
Energy conservation is a national and command priority. The growth and demand for energy is increasing quickly, putting a great deal of pressure on the available resources. Reducing the amount of the energy you use is one of the fastest, most effective ways to save energy and money. It will also help fight climatic change and provide for cleaner air. You don't need to make major alterations to see the difference. The right combination of small changes can reduce your energy bill by thousands of dollars.

Look at all the equipment and machines running right now - lights, fans, computers, cars, aircraft - it is difficult to imagine life without them. Now imagine the amount of energy and dollars being spent to run them. Fortunately, people all around the world are becoming aware of the problem of wasting energy and are making a conscious effort to conserve it and put less demand on resources. By conserving energy we also lower the amount of pollutants we release into the air and help keep the air clean.

For the past 20 years the Air Force has recognized the necessity to cut back facility energy usage. Original initiatives mandated the Air Force cut energy usage 30 percent by incorporating energy conservation into facility operations - without impacting the mission. Air Force Space Command reduced its energy consumption by 34 percent within that timeframe.

The federal government passed new legislation to cut usage another 30 percent by fiscal year 2015 (Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management). This order requires all federal agencies lead by example in advancing the nation's energy security and environmental performance by achieving the newly set goals. Though the order targeted several new initiatives such as petroleum conservation, hybrid vehicles, pollution prevention and building performance, the focus of this article is energy efficiency, awareness and conservation.

The new plan calls for across-the-board facility energy reduction of three percent annually through 2015 or a 30-percent reduction by the end of FY 2015. It also calls for a two percent reduction in water consumption during that same period starting in 2008 with an end goal of 16 percent by end of FY 2015. In order for the Air Force and AFSPC to achieve these target goals, it is very important everyone in the command knows the mandates and that energy awareness becomes a focal point in all we do, whether on the job or at home.

For a nation with a small percentage of the world's population (six percent), the United States uses an enormous amount of energy - about a third of the energy produced each year. We may not realize that this precious commodity is becoming limited, and we need to learn how to use it better and more efficiently. Energy conservation, such as efficient heating, cooling and lighting, saves money and resources.

At the highest levels of the Air Force, reducing facility infrastructure costs is a major initiative - nearly 40 percent of an average base operating support budget goes toward energy and utility costs. Defense budgets have been strained for the last decade, and there appears to be no relief in sight. AFSPC is fully committed to energy conservation and efficiency and is working toward lessening our demand for energy. The command is making every effort to curtail energy consumption by retrofitting lighting and mechanical systems, installing energy reducing devices where feasible, procuring energy-saving equipment, seeking renewable energy products, and by educating people about their role and responsibility in helping to save energy.

In 1985 the Department of Energy started an energy awareness campaign and every year the Air Force runs its campaign in October to promote energy consciousness. Still, too many people are unaware of how their everyday actions and activities at home and work affect energy use and impact the environment.

Energy awareness Web sites can provide information on the energy performance of equipment or processes that employees and homeowners can use to reduce energy consumption.
For example:
n Thirty percent of energy consumed in buildings is used unnecessarily or inefficiently.
n Commercial buildings generate 18 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
n Industrial facilities generate 33 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
n In the United States, approximately 6.6 tons (almost 15,000 pounds carbon equivalent) of greenhouse gases are emitted per person every year.
(Source: index.cfm?c=business.bus_protect_environment)
Here are some simple things you can do to reduce energy consumption:
n Use compact fluorescent lamps to save energy and cut pollution. Swapping several lamps in your home or workplace can add up to large savings over time.
n Switch off lights if you are leaving the room for longer than 15 minutes - it is a myth that it is cheaper to leave fluorescent lights on than to switch them off.
n Switch off lights when you go home - lighting an empty office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee.
n Use your desktop or tabletop lamp; why light a tennis court to read a paper?
n Switch off your computer monitor when not in use. Monitors use about two-thirds of a computer's total electricity.
n Recycling paper reduces water use by 60 percent, energy by 70 percent and cuts pollution in half.
n Take mass transit or carpool; these practices use 25 times less energy.
n Burn carbohydrates not hydrocarbons: ride a bike to work.
n Set hot water heaters no higher then 105 degrees.

By taking up these simple practices, small savings can add up collectively to large savings in energy use.

President George W. Bush said, when kicking off the Energy Awareness Month 2006, "To meet our growing energy needs will require creativity, determination and discipline. By working together, we can foster economic growth, improve our environment, and leave behind a safer, cleaner, more prosperous world for future generations."

Your efforts in making energy conservation a part of your day-to-day activities will benefit our Air Force and free up precious money for other critical programs. The bottom line - good energy management is smart, and adopting energy awareness is a decision you cannot afford to ignore.