MONTEREY, California -- When the Secretary of the Army presented the service's most recent Energy and Water Management award to Presidio of Monterey leaders, it was official recognition that PoM leads the charge for energy conservation across the Army.

PoM has reduced its energy usage by 21% since 2009, which has saved the Army more than $5 million over the past five years.

"Some of these old buildings were not built to the standards we have today," Jay Tulley, Presidio of Monterey energy program manager, said. "And yet in some cases, we've been able to improve on those standards and see even greater effects."

The reason is PoM's focus on new technology that produces energy savings, and how people interact with that technology.

Building maintenance services on PoM are provided by the City of Monterey.

Maintenance workers are very familiar with lighting, heating and cooling needs in buildings they support. But at first, their contract didn't allow workers to initiate improvements unless the military requested them. DPW modified the contract.

Now, city maintenance workers are now empowered to initiate work orders for "no-cost or low-cost" energy efficiency improvements without waiting to be asked.

The authorized upgrades typically pay for themselves within a year, Tulley said.

Maintenance staff have embraced the dual challenges of improving energy efficiency, and saving the Army money.

"It's simple, really. Leaving equipment running all the time wears it down faster. If it doesn't run as much, it doesn't break as much," Steve Lang, a senior HVAC maintainer for the City of Monterey, said.

City engineers have also adjusted controls in other buildings to reflect changes in usage patterns during the day or week, and changes to weather patterns throughout the year.

Addressing human behavior is also an important part of PoM's program.

That's a harder fix to implement, Tulley said.

In some locations, thermostats are equipped with manual timers, to so users don't leave the heat on after leaving the room. Others have signs that explain how to use them, in simple language: "Make it 2 degrees cooler" or "Press here for two hours of heating."

Space heaters are a drain on any energy efficiency program. Yet, PoM DPW will provide one to any one, in any office on the installation, upon request.

"If they bring in their own space heater, we'll never know about the problem (in that building). But if we provide the space heater, it gives us a chance to look at the systems in that building and make sure they are working," Tulley said.

DoD is seeking ways to reduce energy use by deployed units. Energy requirements also impact the service's ability to support the nation during many kinds of emergencies, such as natural disasters.

PoM's long-term energy plan includes continued electricity use reductions until the garrison is using just 50 percent of its previous total.

Once that goal is reached, solar power could bring net energy use to zero by 2030, Tulley said.