USA — Installations Practice Energy Conservation

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment is well on its way to reduc­ing its ener­gy con­sump­tion on mil­i­tary bases by 34 per­cent by 2020, a depart­ment offi­cial said.

Joe Sikes, the department’s direc­tor for instal­la­tion facil­i­ties and ener­gy, said in an April 15 inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel that the depart­ment is on track to meet its goal, even though offi­cials expect the demand for pow­er on bases to rise as troops rede­ploy from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Ener­gy use will get high­er on instal­la­tions as more troops come home,” Sikes said.

The depart­ment spends $3.8 bil­lion annu­al­ly to pow­er more than 500 mil­i­tary instal­la­tions, amount­ing to about 28 per­cent of the department’s ener­gy costs, he said.

The mil­i­tary needs to reduce its ener­gy use to become less reliant on what the Defense Sci­ence Board called in a 2008 report a “frag­ile and vul­ner­a­ble” com­mer­cial pow­er grid that places crit­i­cal defense mis­sions “at unac­cept­able risk of extend­ed out­age.”

“We’re doing a lot of it already, and we think we can get there,” Sikes said.

Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts, a Wash­ing­ton-based research group, rec­og­nized some of the instal­la­tion achieve­ments April 20 when it released a report that found the depart­ment a leader in the envi­ron­men­tal move­ment. Among oth­er things, Naval Air Weapons Sta­tion Chi­na Lake, Calif. — the service’s largest land hold­ing – is being pow­ered sole­ly by geot­her­mal sources and has pro­duced enough ener­gy to pro­vide for the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty, and the Air Force Acad­e­my also is tak­ing alter­na­tive mea­sures to be off the pub­lic elec­tric grid by 2012.

But alter­na­tives ener­gies are not enough, Sikes said, not­ing that instal­la­tions also have to use less ener­gy. Offi­cials hope to reduce ener­gy con­sump­tion on bases by 3 per­cent each year, and Sikes admit­ted it won’t be easy.

“The cul­tur­al change [toward con­ser­va­tion] is as big a thing here as any­thing,” he said. “Every­body has to be on board for us to go in this direc­tion.”

The depart­ment meters about 63 per­cent of 300,000-plus build­ings now, but plans to do all by 2012, Sikes said. And, as part of its com­pre­hen­sive ener­gy plan, offi­cials plan to cre­ate a data man­age­ment sys­tem to track how much ener­gy is being used where and watch for trends, he said.

“All we can do now is fig­ure out how much we are pay­ing,” Sikes said. “We don’t know who the bad users are on base. Right now, there’s no way to know if one ship is doing bet­ter than anoth­er on ener­gy effi­cien­cy. You can’t con­trol what you can’t know. Peo­ple will per­form bet­ter when they know what they’re look­ing at.”

The depart­ment also is fol­low­ing con­ser­va­tion poli­cies in con­struc­tion that make new build­ings 30 per­cent more effi­cient than old­er ones, Sikes said. Defense Depart­ment build­ings must be deemed “lead sil­ver,” which is the sec­ond-high­est cat­e­go­ry for sus­tain­able build­ings, he said. And by 2015, all new build­ings must gen­er­ate the same amount of ener­gy they use, he said.

To get there, the department’s build­ings are like­ly to include changes such as plants on rooftops and heat pumps under­ground. “That’s where we’re head­ed in the future,” Sikes said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)