Efforts underway to conserve more energy
October 15, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 14, 2010) -A,A Fort Leavenworth is spending about $10 million in the next four years to comply with Department of Defense energy efficiency policies, but still needs its community members to conserve energy to meet federal requirements.
Al Fleumer, energy manager for the Directorate of Logistics and Public Works, said those funds would save the Army money in the long run, especially considering Fort Leavenworth had a $13.8 million utility bill for the past 12 months. The funds will pay for 35 to 40 projects, including repairing heating and cooling equipment, fixing windows, replacing lights and many others.
"The mandate is that we reduce energy consumption by 30 percent (by 2015) from a 2003 baseline number," Fleumer said.
That baseline must remain constant, despite Fort Leavenworth's increase in the number of buildings and residents on post since 2003. Fleumer said Fort Leavenworth is required to reduce its energy use by 3 percent each year and has failed to do so. In fact, post's energy usage increased from the baseline in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"We've already missed four years, so we've got to make it up all at once," he said.
Even with the money Installation Management Command is providing for the projects, Fleumer said individuals who work or live on post will have to make changes in order to meet the requirement. This includes turning off computer monitors when not in use, replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones and ensuring appliances like refrigerators and microwaves meet energy guidelines.
"Our challenge is, as we continue to increase our footprint, we've also got to decrease our energy intensity," he said.
Fleumer evaluates each building's energy usage to determine its energy intensity - that is, how much energy is used per square foot. Fort Leavenworth schools are some of the most energy efficient buildings on post. Fleumer said that is partly because of the school's hours and focus on teaching children about being good stewards of the environment.
"(Unified School District) 207 is doing great; they're teaching kids how to reduce energy," he said. "Maybe they need to teach us adults."
One of the least energy efficient buildings is the Harney Sports Complex annex, also known as the "bubble gym." Fleumer said it uses an average of 26,267 kilowatt-hours per month, and at times is less energy efficient than the main gym. Other big energy users are Eisenhower Hall, the Lewis and Clark Center and Munson Army Health Center.
Fort Leavenworth's electricity comes from Westar Energy, which has mostly coal-fired power plants in the area, but is supplied by Jefferson Electric Cooperative. That means Fort Leavenworth pays for both the use of electricity and the grid that provides electricity. Fort Leavenworth owns its system of natural gas delivery, but still has to pay for the gas used. Water is provided and treated by American Water, but the distribution system is owned by Fort Leavenworth.
Fleumer said that electric usage can be affected by water use. If residents and employees on post use a large amount of water at once, reserve tanks that hold Fort Leavenworth's water run low. When that happens, pumps turn on to bring in more water. The pumps have three 350-horsepower engines that run on electricity to bring more water to the tanks.
Although there are several buildings on post outside IMCOM, such as the schools and the Commissary whose billing is separate, their energy usage can affect all of Fort Leavenworth. When these buildings use more energy, especially in the hot summer months when air conditioning is used, they create a higher peak demand for the local market price of electricity. When the demand goes up, the cost for electricity increases. Fleumer said the demand for Fort Leavenworth's electricity set a new high three times this year in June, July and August.
The other part of the federal requirement to reduce energy consumption is to purchase energy from an alternative source or to create one. Fleumer said the cost of creating an alternative energy source would be high. Fort Leavenworth wouldn't see the benefits of such a program for many years. So, officials are considering purchasing electricity from wind farms in Kansas - which would make the Army one of the largest purchasers of alternative electricity in the area.
IMCOM's plan for creating energy efficiency states "the community will increase the energy security of installations by pursuing technologies, partnerships and personal accountability so that the installations can efficiently and effectively execute their missions today and into the future."
Fleumer said Fort Leavenworth's dependability on coal-fired power plants and an outside power grid for electricity could create a potential risk for access to electricity in the future - because of weather, because of economics or because of a hostile act. Natural gas, he said, is safer because it is underground and because Fort Leavenworth already owns access.
The Network Enterprise Center began a new policy for computer usage on post Sept. 1. As of that date, DoD computer users are asked to turn off monitors when not in use. Fleumer said Garrison Headquarters has newly installed power strips in its building, which turn off automatically after 11 hours, saving 13 hours of electricity.
Fleumer said although meeting the requirement will be difficult, he thinks it can be done.
"The way we get there is taking what we have and what we build and make it more energy efficient," he said.
Fleumer said anyone with ideas on how to conserve energy can make a suggestion in the Interactive Customer Survey online at https://ice.disa.mil.