Fort Meade, Md. - How many colonels does it take to screw in a light bulb' Just one, joked Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas, provided he has a noncommissioned officer on hand to help. Thomas, along with Sgt. Paul Blackman, an Active Guard Reserve Soldier with the 11th Psychological Operations Battalion in Upper Marlboro, and Jim Rannels, director of Technology, Validation and Market Introduction at the Department of Energy, symbolically switched an incandescent light bulb for an energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulb as part of Operation Change Out on Earth Day, April 22. The ceremony marked the kickoff of Picerne Military Housing's participation in the OCO movement, a Department of Energy program that officially began last year on Earth Day on Camp Lejeune, N.C. The campaign aims to replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs such as CFLs, which will help protect the environment as well as save energy and money for military installations, service members and government employees. CFLs are about 75 percent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, Rannels said. More than 820,000 bulbs have been replaced so far, saving users $54.3 million in energy costs and preventing the emissions of nearly 400 million pounds of carbon dioxide, he said. "It's truly a win, win, win situation." Over the next three years, Picerne plans to swap out more than 600,000 bulbs in privatized homes on seven installations across the country, said Bill Mulvey, Picerne's vice president of communications. As families move out or homes are renovated, he said, CFLs will be installed. Just this year, 44,000 bulbs will be replaced on Fort Meade alone, said Picerne Executive Vice President Mike Steiner. The light bulb-switching ceremony at Blackman's Potomac Place home was preceded by a visit to the Potomac Place Neighborhood Center. Thomas and Rannels, along with representatives from ENERGY STAR and Picerne, took a short tour and worked with a group of children from Child Development Center III's pre-kindergarten Strong Beginnings class to create and color light switch covers. The group later traveled to Youth Services for Earth Day-themed presentations, demonstrations and displays. During his remarks, Thomas noted that despite some recent negative press, Fort Meade is proactive when it comes to going green and continues to work diligently to rectify ongoing environmental issues. "We are moving forward ... and making good progress," he said. "Furthermore, we are implementing a number of initiatives that focus positive attention on other things that are going on, such as emphasizing public transportation opportunities, pushing a stream reclamation project on the golf course and looking into a number of other initiatives that make Fort Meade a greener environment overall." Thomas also mentioned Picerne's participation in the congressionally mandated Department of Defense Resident Utility Program, which was created to raise awareness of utility consumption and encourage conservation of natural resources. More than 500 residents of Meuse Forest and Heritage Park will soon join Potomac Place residents in the program. Residents whose energy usage exceeds the baseline by a certain percentage will be charged; those who fall a certain percentage below the baseline will receive a rebate check, said Picerne spokesperson Angela Marcum. Residents' Basic Allowance for Housing covers the baseline amount. "[The Resident Utility Program] not only penalizes those who waste energy, but also rewards those who conserve," Thomas said, noting that Blackman mentioned the rebate check as an incentive for him to conserve. "It's an example of a large program across the installation that is impacting on the individual level." On display during the Earth Day event were demonstrations, including a Light Bulb Energy Comparison Bike. The device allows the user to create energy with pedal power and light up attached bulbs. Incandescent bulbs required the most energy, a lesson learned firsthand by Thomas, who challenged Public Affairs Officer Chad Jones to a pedal-power contest (See page 18). MariJoe Lee, wife of Air Force Capt. William Lee of the 7th Intelligence Squadron, 70th Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Wing, brought her four home-schooled daughters to the event so they could "have a greater understanding of how to conserve and what it takes to meaningfully conserve," she said. "I think they got that." The girls also loved the bike demonstration, she said. "It was good for them to see that. I harp on them about turning off the lights, so it was a good, practical experience."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16