'Lights Out' for energy savings at Natick
Motion sensors will darken brightly lit, unoccupied hallways as part of the new 'Lights Out' initiative at Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass.

NATICK, Mass. -- Something as simple as turning off office lights, office equipment, and hallway and bathroom lights not in use could save lots of energy and money.

That's the thinking behind the "Lights Out" initiative at the Natick Soldier Systems Center, where supervisors and senior employees have been instructed to ensure that lights and equipment are off when they leave their offices each evening. Also, motion sensors are being installed in hallways and bathrooms to switch off most lights when those areas are unoccupied.

Lights Out, begun in November, complies with Presidential Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, meant to reduce government sustainability waste at all levels.

"The Army's Installation Management Campaign Plan has a line of effort dedicated to energy efficiency," said Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, U.S. Army Garrison Natick commander. "While there is a component of that objective that can be accomplished by spending money on improving and modernizing facilities, the most cost-effective way of achieving that objective is to get users to conserve energy more aggressively."

Sobchak added that Lights Out meets that requirement. During its rounds at Natick, the Directorate of Emergency Services has been making note of violations.

"The Lights Out checks were a way to get at that objective -- simply by inspecting and then enforcing standards so that people turn off their lights at the end of the day," Sobchak said. "The beauty of the program is that it doesn't cost the Army anything and has already resulted in great improvements in compliance and energy savings here at NSSC."

As John McHugh, chief of the Environmental and Health Office at Natick, pointed out, one set of lights recently found had been on for years. McHugh said that the initiative could save tens of thousands of dollars on Natick's annual electric bill of approximately $2.5 million.

"This should save a lot of energy on our bill," McHugh said. "Every time you do something green, you're actually saving money, too. So in times of … financial concerns, as we are now, a green thing actually is a budget-conscious thing, too."

In addition to conservation, Natick has employed such solutions as solar light pipes and LED, or light-emitting diode, lights.

"The combination of all of these significantly will reduce our electric bill," McHugh said. "We know that."

McHugh added that employees aren't being asked to do anything different than what they probably do at home to reduce their own utility bills.

"This would be a great way for people to (motivate) themselves to see which building is doing a better job, too," McHugh said. "It's intuitive to turn off all your lights, computers and monitors at night."

The response so far, said McHugh, has been encouraging.

"Generally, there's been a great acceptance," McHugh said. "The place generally looks darker at night."

Page last updated Fri January 4th, 2013 at 09:33