FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Preparation has begun at several buildings on post which are receiving energy-efficient improvements to help the installation reduce its "carbon footprint." Geothermal heating and cooling systems will be installed in five buildings around Fort Bragg's historic district. These systems use the earth's temperature to warm or cool a structure. "In this case, the mechanical systems in the buildings were aging and in need of an upgrade," said Melinda Hakeman, Fort Bragg Energy Program planner and a Fayetteville, North Carolina native. "The mechanical systems will be upgraded and tied into the geothermal wells." Preparations to include digging the wells and installing underground piping systems began in June. The systems use wells and pipes to circulate a water glycol solution through a closed-loop system. In the summer heat is removed from the building and absorbed by the ground. In the winter it works the same way, only in reverse. The $13.3 million project is centrally funded through the Department of Defense's Energy Conservation and Investment Program and is scheduled to be completed by September 2016. The geothermal systems will supplement the mechanical heating and cooling systems within the buildings, allowing them to work more efficiently. Energy efficiency is critical to reducing cost via lowering energy consumption. "It is extremely important for us to reduce our energy consumption because that helps reduce energy costs," said Hakeman. Fort Bragg uses geothermal technology at other locations throughout the installation. "Presently, there are many buildings on Fort Bragg that utilize the geothermal technology in the form of ground source heat pumps," said Hakeman. "The new NCO academy has a large geothermal well underneath the parking lot which serves both the academy and the barracks. Ground source heat pumps are utilized where life-cycle cost effective. The energy team assesses application of energy efficiency and renewable technologies on an ongoing basis." According to Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, improving environmental performance and sustainability, priority is placed on reducing energy use and cost, and finding renewable and alternative energy solutions. Fort Bragg's energy team is tasked with executing these Federal mandates to reduce energy consumption and the evaluation and implementation of renewable energy technology. "Energy intensity reduction is accomplished through technology and people," said Hakeman. "The energy team develops energy projects to reduce our energy intensity as well as working with building occupants to share best practices in energy conservation." According to the Department of Defense Annual Energy Management Report, Congress has mandated that by 2025, 25 percent of the Department of Defense's energy consumption must come from renewable sources. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the geothermal systems generally use 20 to 25 percent less electricity than conventional heating and cooling systems. Additionally, they are about 40 percent more efficient in the winter than regular heat pumps. "This is our job and anything we can do to help reduce energy intensity is a positive thing for this community," said Hakeman.