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Air Force civil engineers recognize Earth "Day" all year

(U.S. Air Force Graphic)

(U.S. Air Force Graphic)

EPA Courtesy Image

EPA Courtesy Image

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Use less electricity and water. Recycle. Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescents. What will you do to commemorate Earth Day on April 22?

More than four decades ago, Senator Gaylord Nelson helped establish Earth Day because he was troubled that "the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of our country." Since then, environmental concerns have led to the establishment of many laws, executive orders, and goals that require government employees, including Airmen, to be environmentally conscientious. For example, by 2015, the Air Force is required to
· Reduce facility energy 30 percent (2003 baseline)
· Reduce water usage 16 percent (2007 baseline)
· Increase use of renewable energy to 10 percent of electricity consumed

Engineers at the Air Force Facility Energy Center, a division of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., major commands, and installations work together to identify conservation and renewable energy projects to help the Air Force meet federal energy goals.

Energy Conservation Initiatives
The Air Force has many initiatives underway to reduce energy consumption. Engineers are coordinating base-wide facility energy audits, hiring more resource efficiency managers, and installing advanced meters. They're also developing solutions to more complex energy conservation problems like paint hangar recirculation systems, inefficient heating and air conditioning in Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratories, and efficiency of propane use.

In fiscal year 2010, the Air Force completed 41 facility energy audits covering 92 million square feet and identifying $250 million in investment-grade projects (each more than $100,000). They include projects such as upgrades to lighting, heating and air conditioning, energy management control systems and building envelopes. The Air Force is required by law to audit 25 percent of the highest energy use facilities each year.

The Air Force also uses resource efficiency managers at every large major command and every large installation. REMs are primarily responsible for identifying energy (and water) saving opportunities, but they do much more; offering technical expertise and consultation across the entire conservation program.

Water Conservation Projects
Recent water conservation projects at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., and Little Rock Air Force Base, Ariz., will save an estimated 246 million gallons of water a year and more than $37 million over the life cycle of the improvements. A planned project to install more gray water re-use lines at Hurlburt Field, Fla., this year will save an estimated 93 million gallons of water and nearly $7 million over its life cycle, and in 2012, the expansion of Lake Person for irrigation at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., is expected to save 51 million gallons of water and $4.7 million over the project's life cycle.

"Saving water is the right thing to do for our environment, and federal law requires us to do so," said Mike Rits, AFFEC Capital Investments branch chief. "The Air Force requires that projects have a positive savings to investment ratio so identifying economically feasible water conservation projects is difficult because water is cheap in most areas."

Renewable Energy Projects
In 2010, more than 6 percent of all facility energy used by the Air Force came from renewable energy sources, surpassing federal renewable energy goals. Seven solar projects have been awarded and are in construction and 16 more, including wind and waste-to-energy, are expected to be awarded this year.

In the last 16 years, the Air Force has reduced facility energy consumption 33 percent which equates to $517 million in cost avoidance.

"All Air Force members should be proud of our accomplishments, but we have a long way to go," said Rick Stacey AFFEC director. "Federal goals require us to reduce energy intensity an additional 16 percent. In many places, we've already taken care of the 'low-hanging fruit.' We have to remain aggressive at how we identify, fund, and implement energy projects, and we need everyone's help."

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