ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill - The Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC) broke ground today on a $61-million infrastructure modernization project.

The project will support critical infrastructure improvements at the industrial facility that will cut energy use by approximately 35 percent, and generate up to $5.3 million in annual energy and operational savings.

The Army launched the technology center upgrades through a 20-year energy savings performance contract with Honeywell that was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala. Honeywell guarantees the improvements will generate the target savings, which should repay the investment used to fund the work. As a result, the project requires no capital or additional taxpayer dollars upfront.

In the ceremony today at the Arsenal, Col. David J. Luders, commander of RIA-JMTC, discussed the importance this brings to the Army's only vertically integrated metal manufacturer.

"We have been providing the best products and services to our armed forces for more than 150 years," said Luders. "This project lets us tackle our aging infrastructure head on, a difficult task in light of budget cutbacks, so we can operate as efficiently as possible and support mission readiness."

RIA-JMTC accounts for two-thirds of the Garrison's overall energy consumption. Along with the immediate savings, the project will help the Garrison meet the requirements of a Presidential Executive Order that calls for federal facilities to reduce energy consumption 30 percent by 2015.

As part of the project, Honeywell will implement a variety of facility improvements, which includes installing high-efficiency HVAC systems, such as on-premise natural-gas heating that will allow the facility to disconnect from the Garrison's central coal-fired steam plant. Another major upgrade is new plating and paint systems for the technology center.

"Honeywell teamed up with the RIA-JMTC to help address aging infrastructure and improve overall efficiency, no small task given the tight budgets and sizable efficiency requirements," said Kevin Madden, Vice President and General Manager of Honeywell's Federal Systems Group. "Honeywell made facility improvement recommendations as part of a 20-year, 61-million dollar energy savings performance contract, which enables the RIA-JMTC to tackle upgrades using the energy and operational savings the improvements deliver, savings guaranteed by Honeywell."

Almost 90 percent of the parts produced at the facility go through plating and paint, receiving the surface coatings necessary to build hardened, durable components for Army equipment.

"The plating department is critical to our operations," said Luders. "It is one of our oldest operations with the first plating shop being installed in 1885. Today marks another evolution."

"The project will save nearly 5.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year -- enough energy to power almost 490 homes on average," echoed Madden. "In addition, the Honeywell work is expected to deliver environmental benefits. As a result of transitioning to natural-gas heating, for example, annual coal use at the central plant will drop by approximately 12,000 tons."

"This is the new way we measure success in the Army," said Col. Robert Ruch, commander of the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, when referencing the importance of energy conservation. "It is important for us to celebrate events like this."

Rep. Dave Loebsack, who represents Iowa's second congressional district, participated in a symbolic gesture showing the reduced emissions now will be produced after the project is complete. During his comments in the ceremony he stated the importance of energy conservation across the nation.

"This event highlights the modernization that is happening at all our organic industrial facilities, Loebsack remarked.

RIA-JMTC is the nation's largest government owned and operated arsenal. Their 16 critical manufacturing capabilities makes RIA-JMTC the Army's one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, vertically integrated metal manufacturing and fabrication arsenal. This enables an immediate response for critical and life saving products to the servicemembers defending the Nation's interests in Overseas Contingency Operations.

By the numbers at the completion of the project(from Honeywell):

5.3 Million - Reducing energy use by approximately 35 percent, and generating up to $5.3 million in annual energy and operational savings.

5.5 Million kWh - Saving nearly 5.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year -- enough energy to power almost 490 homes on average.

63 Million Pounds of Carbon Dioxide Eliminated - Limiting annual coal use at the central plant by approximately 12,000 tons and cutting an estimated 63 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of removing more than 6,300 cars from the road.