Going green--reduce office environmental footprints to save energy, cash

(This is the first in a three-part series about energy efficiency in recognition of Earth Day, celebrated April 22.)

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker officials are striving to reduce the installation's energy usage and "go green."

"Reducing our energy usage is a must," said Andy Franks, Directorate of Public Works resource efficiency manager. "It is not an option to continue using energy as we have in the past. "The U.S. military is (one of) the biggest energy users in the U.S. and any way we can save money is less money we're sending overseas (for energy costs). The less money spent on energy, the more there is for enhancements to improve the lives of the Soldiers."

One way DPW staff members ensure Fort Rucker goes green and cuts energy usage and costs is through building energy monitors, he said.

A BEM "is a person who is in charge of watching out for energy being wasted or for ways energy can be conserved," Franks said. "A BEM is a volunteer who goes through (his or her) building or area periodically to check lighting, thermostat settings, weather stripping and other things that might affect energy use. They make suggestions for changing operations or doing things differently that will help reduce energy or water use."

Using energy efficiently is everyone's responsibility, and one place people can cut back is their places of employment, Franks noted.

"It is the multitude of small things done every day by every person in every area of Fort Rucker that can make the difference in wasting or conserving energy. If everyone understands the problem and works together, we can do what we need to do," he said.

Stacy Bedsole, Army Fleet Support facility engineer and BEM manager, said the executive order for Fort Rucker to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015 is essential. Every energy avenue should be reduced he said, including electricity, water, paper and more.

"By accomplishing this goal, we could foresee the benefits in reducing money spent on energy. That money could be spent on other items. It's just good common practice to try to reduce your energy consumption," he said.

AFS does their part by purchasing "green," Energy Star-rated equipment, upgrading facilities, recycling, switching to electronic filing to cut back on paper usage and choosing more efficient lighting methods, Bedsole said.

Lynn Aley Howe, installation postal officer, said she is doing her part to eliminate inefficiencies at the mail center as the facility's BEM.

Recently she's discovered and eliminated several instances there, with solutions including sealing entryways with weather stripping and regulating heating and cooling systems.

Aley Howe said her job is rewarding because reducing energy usage saves funds.

"The money is taxpayer's money, and that's important to me," she said. "If we're smart enough in our own areas and see the things that need to be changed, then it's better for the program and better for the government, ultimately."

Anyone can easily reduce their energy consumption at work by changing a few habits, she noted. For example, employees should always turn off lights and computers when not in use.

Another organization attempting to reduce their "environmental footprint" is Picerne Military Housing. Staff conserves resources in their offices and they also encourage their residents to do the same.

Ongoing neighborhood construction is resulting in many new, energy-efficient homes, said Emily Natalio, Picerne communications specialist. The company established a recycling program in June 2006, which has recycled more than 800 tons of goods since then. Staff recycles wasted paper and depleted office products like ink cartridges and encourages employees to reconsider printing unnecessary documents. These are behaviors any Fort Rucker employee can mimic, she added.

"It's the right thing to do," said Amanda Filipowski, Picerne communications manager. "We've all seen or heard reports about what excessive consumption of natural resources is doing to the Earth. At Picerne Military Housing, we are trying to make a difference in our personal lives and hope our residents will do the same."

As Earth Day approaches next month, Franks said he hopes post programs raise awareness about acceptable energy use along with company and individual roles in reducing resource consumption.

To find out about becoming a BEM, call 255-0494 or 255-1368.

Page last updated Thu March 25th, 2010 at 09:23