CHICAGO - Do you retrofit'

Most people have never been asked that question, and if asked, might conjure up images of an aerobics class, complete with purple leggings, stirrup pants and early 1980s' music.

However, engineers and employees in public works have a different idea. For them, retrofitting means adding new technology or features to older systems - think adding cruise control to a car without it.

Retrofitting was one of the primary topics at the Fourth Annual Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Energy Summit, held in Chicago, Jan. 27-30.

The summit brought more than 200 U.S. and international attendees together to focus on energy conservation and efficiency for government and public buildings and building sites.

On a more direct level, the summit was also a call-to-action for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI), and the 23 other IMCOM garrisons that did not meet their 2008 energy reduction goals.

A "missed goal" may not seem so serious, but what about when that goal is part of a law'

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 called for all federal organizations to reduce their energy consumption by two percent each year. Two years later, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 raised the standard, requiring the federal sector to reduce energy consumption by three percent per year through the end of fiscal year 2015, with an overall 30-percent reduction by the end of fiscal year 2015.

IMCOM has met the energy reduction goal only once in the past three years.

"For those who are tempted to rationalize and say, 'gosh, we came close,' I have a clear message: close isn't good enough. Close counts only in three things: horseshoes, hand grenades and hydrogen bombs," Maj. Gen. John Macdonald, then IMCOM deputy commander, told summit attendees, via video.

IMCOM is intent on turning these numbers around, especially considering the possibility that the new presidential administration may want to "move faster and set the bar higher" for reducing energy consumption across the government, Macdonald said.

To get back on track, IMCOM required each garrison that missed its energy reduction goal to develop an energy action plan for achieving legislative compliance.

Summit topics like building envelopes, radiant heating and retrofitting aided garrison energy managers in formulating their plans, and garrisons briefed their plans to IMCOM leadership on the final day of the summit. Energy managers explained their garrisons' current challenges, action plans and tracking methods.

"We need to design (facilities) right, build them right, maintain them right, and use them right," said Keith Yamanaka, USAG-HI energy manager, in his briefing. "Unfortunately, 'on time, on budget' does not always equal good building."

Yamanaka echoed many fellow garrisons' challenges: a lack of building meters to track energy use, understaffing, short design-review deadlines and lack of community buy-in.

Energy is something many people take for granted. If you need light, you flip a switch. If you want to play the latest version of Guitar Hero on your Playstation, you make sure everything's plugged in. The problem is, unless you're paying the bill, you don't pay energy much attention.

This cultural mindset represents the other side of the coin, according to Yamanaka. While USAG-HI is going to continue to use technology and explore more renewable resources, the human element must be part of the equation.

Out of the military services, the Army consumes the most energy. In fiscal year 2008, IMCOM spent more than $1 billion on energy. Locally, USAG-HI spent more than $62 million on electricity - $14 million more than anticipated, budgeted and planned.

If each person on the installation practiced energy conservation by turning off lights and equipment that don't need to be on, or by not setting air conditioners too low, the garrison could save anywhere from 10-20 percent on utilities, which isn't such a small number when talking about millions of dollars.

The extra $14 million that USAG-HI spent on electricity in 2008 is money that could have been used to provide better support and services for Soldiers and their families.

USAG-HI intends to incorporate energy reviews of equipment purchases into the work order process and is planning creative means, such as prizes, to encourage military participation in the garrison's Building Energy Monitor program.

Ten ways you can save energy now

-Turn off computer monitors and other equipment any time you leave or are not using them.

-Turn off the lights if you are the last to leave a room.

-Keep air conditioners at 74 degrees F and turn them off when you leave. Check thermostat to ensure it has not been changed.

-Close doors and windows for air-conditioned rooms.

-Report/repair leaking faucets and toilets.

-Consolidate and share resources. Each room does not need its own refrigerator or coffee maker.

-Buy a thermometer and set the refrigerator temperature as close to 37A,AoF and your freezer as close to 3A,AoF as possible. If there's an energy saver switch, turn it on.

-Select energy-efficient products. Look for the Energy Star label.

-Use energy-efficient electronic ballast T-8 fluorescent or compact fluorescent bulbs.

-Let Mother Nature do the work. Open a window instead of turning on the air conditioning; use sunlight instead of artificial light.