Turn words into action, turn action into results
October 13, 2011
HEIDELBERG, Germany - According to estimates, there are currently about 7 billion people on earth.
While every culture is different, there are few vital things we all share, including the need for food, water and clothing.
For many, the threat of not having these things is real, and it could become a reality in the near future for the rest of the planet.
"We don't want to lecture, but we do want people to be aware and to think about what they are doing," said Marty Hanson, assistant energy program manager for U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg Department of Public Works.
October is the Department of Energy's energy awareness month, with this year's theme Turn Words into Action, Turn Action into Results.
Originally signed in January 2007 by then-president George W. Bush and updated in 2009 by President Barack Obama, executive order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, aims to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of chemicals and toxic materials, as well as increase purchases of alternative fuel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles and more.
While these are government-mandated initiatives, community members can do their part in October and year-round, Hanson said.
If they don't do so already, community members are encouraged to use public transportation, bicycle or car pool Oct. 20, "No Car Day."
On Oct. 21, incorporate meat-less meals into your day in honor of vegetarian day and to reduce the energy required to raise and transport livestock.
On Oct. 31, switch off the lights from 7-8 p.m.
"This really fits in with the Halloween atmosphere," Hanson said.
There are other small things community members can do to reduce their footprint and help conserve energy.
For transportation, Hanson suggested riding a bicycle or walking to stores or work whenever possible, taking public transportation, carpooling, slowing down and avoiding jackrabbit starts and stops, ensuring the engine is properly tuned and the tires are inflated.
Inside the home, set temperatures not higher than 70 F degrees in winter and set air conditioning at not less than 78 F in summer.
Leave windows and doors closed when heating or cooling, except for brief periods to introduce fresh air in winter. Also, ensure window and door seals work properly.
Take showers, not baths and turn the water off while shaving, brushing teeth and washing dishes. Use the proper flushing mode in dual flush toilets, run dishwashers and washing machines only when full, collect rainwater to water indoor plants, water lawns in the evening or early morning to limit evaporation and call in service orders for leaking faucets.
Plug electronic equipment into power strips with switches to avoid standby electricity usage (vampire appliances), replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (energy saving bulbs) as they burn out, turn off lights when leaving the room, or open windows for natural light during the day.
At work, use a desk lamp instead of overhead lighting, and turn off office equipment at the end of the day.
The garrison's current policy is to turn off work computers before leaving for the day, except Tuesdays when updates are remotely sent.
"(There are a) number of recommendations for saving energy," Hanson said, but all the responsibility doesn't fall on the individual's shoulders.
The garrison is integrating the executive order in day-to-day practices and has implemented its own policies.
Just after taking command of the garrison in July, Col. Bryan DeCoster signed an energy and a water conservation policy, both of which can be found at www.bw.eur.army.mil/about/policies.html.
"DPW is (also) in the process of developing an energy conservation plan that includes the establishment of Building Energy Monitors at installations where electrical meters are being installed, such as the Exchange facility at Grünstadt, Germersheim Army Depot and Spinelli Barracks.
In addition, environmental officers will be trained to handle BEM responsibilities," Hanson said.
"USAG B-W has connected all buildings in Heidelberg to the Computerized Utilities Monitoring and Control System (and) solar panels will be mounted on one of the DeCA [Defense Commissary Agency] warehouses at Germersheim Army Depot. However, the largest impact is based on how well we manage the resources available to us."
Hanson said it is the community's responsibility to be fiscally and environmentally responsible on behalf of the taxpayers. By making small yet easy steps in reducing energy, Hanson said we are doing two things.
"We are doing right by taxpayers and to ourselves by lowering the amount we pay (in energy costs), and we are doing right by our children and (will hopefully) leave some resources for them.
"At one point, even if you're not responsible for the utility bill, you will have to be one day. It's good to develop good practices now."
For information, visit www.energystar.gov, www1.eere.energy.gov or www.youtube.com/user/InstallationMgt#p/f/8/ALLRkZXSyrM.