Tobyhanna: Finding ways to save energy
April 21, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -In fiscal year 2008 Tobyhanna spent $3,791,131 on electricity, expended $7,870,236 worth of depot utilities, and consumed over 601 billion British thermal units (Btu). A Btu, which is the basic measure of thermal heat, is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water to 1 degree Fahrenheit.
All of that energy consumption and usage adds up to almost 1 percent of the depot's rate (the cost of what the depot charges the customer).
"One of the primary goals, in terms of energy, has been trying to comply with Executive Order 13423 [Strengthening Federal and Environmental Energy and Transportation Management], which sets the goal for us to reduce our energy use by 3 percent, each year, beginning in 2003," explains Brian Decker, mechanical engineer in the Industrial Risk Management Directorate's Environmental Management Division.
Although the depot has not been successful with meeting this goal, Decker notes employees have remained consistent with the amount of energy consumption from year to year.
"Part of the reason the depot is unable to meet the goal is because mission work hours have increased 110 percent since 2003," Decker says, explaining that more people are working on different shifts, so equipment and lights are more active.
Because employees use various forms of energy, such as electricity, natural gas, oil, propane and gasoline at the depot, personnel in EMD, and the Public Works (DPW), and Productivity, Improvement and Innovation (PII) directorates are looking at different energy initiatives that will help the depot to "go green" and comply with the executive order.
One recent environmental friendly change began in 1999 when the depot's heating system (a coal plant built in 1955) switched to natural gas.
"Because of the switch we are able to save 20 million gallons of water each year, and cut down on air emissions," says Tom Wildoner, an environmental protection specialist who has worked in the EMD since 1991. The central coal plant was replaced with decentralized boilers, which supply hot water or steam heat to a building, and air rotation units, which capture cold air, heats it, and circulates it throughout the buildings. Wildoner says the two heating units are more efficient and produce less pollution.
In 2000, to lessen the amount of electricity consumed, EMD personnel began replacing old compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) with more efficient and light-intense bulbs. Energy efficient implementations throughout the depot include a computer setting that turns a monitor off if it hasn't been used for 10 minutes, and light sensors, which turn lights on and off automatically.
"We looked at large scale wind turbines but determined they couldn't be used because they would interfere with the radar testing, so now we're looking at smaller scale turbines mounted to buildings," Decker explains. "We're also looking into solar walls, which would serve as a 'secondary skin' to a building and use solar energy to heat the indoor space, and rapid roll overhead doors, which open and close faster than the current overhead doors, to allow less energy to enter or escape buildings."
Personnel from the Army Corps of Engineers are currently on-post, performing studies on the three initiatives, which will conclude later this summer.
Decker says the depot's future looks environmentally friendly, starting with the construction of the upcoming C4ISR Finishing Center, which will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System building at the depot. LEED is a certification program for the design, construction and operation of high performance "green" buildings.
To aid Army personnel in their quest to reduce energy consumption, EMD and DPW personnel are researching the use of infrared thermography imaging, Decker notes, describing the technology as a way to inspect if and where a building has heat leakage.
EMD, DPW and PII personnel are also examining exhaust air energy recovery, which is a system used in buildings to reclaim heat from the air by extracting heat from warm exhaust air.
Decker and Wildoner agree that every little effort counts, and sometimes the biggest challenge is that not enough employees pay attention to energy steps such as lights off when not in a room, or unplugging appliances when they're not in use.
Decker says that by implementing these environmentally friendly initiatives depot personnel will be able to conserve resources, spend less money on energy, and provide secondary sources of power in the event that we lose our primary sources of power.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest full-service Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) maintenance and logistics support facility in the Department of Defense. Employees repair, overhaul and fabricate electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.
Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces. The depot is the Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center (TRC) for ground communications and electronics.
About 5,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control, computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.