By Amy Guckeen TolsonOctober 29, 2018
Mark Smith and Patrick Holmes may oversee Redstone Arsenal's energy consumption for the Garrison, but everyone has a role to play in ensuring the installation is energy efficient.
October is National Energy Action Month, a time set aside each year to remind individuals how important it is to be aware of their energy use and to work to reduce consumption. This year's theme is "Energy Resilience Enables Army Readiness." Holmes and Smith work toward that end every day, with one simple mission.
"We save money," the Garrison's energy managers said.
In fiscal 2017, Army installations spent $1.1 billion on utilities. The Installation Management Command ID Sustainment Garrisons spent nearly $143 million on energy and utilities, equating to roughly $391,115 a day. Here at Redstone, the total utility bill for FY '17 was around $49 million, according to Smith, with about $31 million spent on electricity alone, $17 million of that on the Army side. FY '18, which was 30 percent more energy intensive due to weather, according to Smith, is projected to be about the same, which means efforts to reduce consumption are being seen.
While Smith and Holmes have seen a trend toward a reduction in consumption, there's always work to be done to improve those numbers, and every little bit counts.
"One person may save a few watts, but if five people are turning stuff down, it adds up," Holmes said.
To help conserve energy, individuals can:
Turn off office lights, computer monitors, -- anything that can be turned off -- when not in use.
Avoid the use of space heaters. If an office space is chronically too cold, adjust the thermostat or put in a work order to have the system evaluated. "Space heaters hurt you twice," Smith said. "They hurt you from the energy it's consuming, but it also hurts you because if someone is too cool in an air conditioned space, you're heating the space, but you're still cooling the space. The system is working overtime to compensate for the heat the space heater is putting out."
Share refrigerators, microwaves and coffee pots with the entire office. One refrigerator may expend a couple hundred dollars in energy a year -- which can add up.
As the Garrison's energy managers, Holmes and Smith are responsible for overseeing the energy consumption of all buildings on the installation occupied by the Army, with the Garrison footing the utility bill and costs for making a facility more energy efficient. Tenants such as Marshall Space Flight Center or the Missile Defense Agency cover their own utility costs. Of the some 2,000 facilities on Redstone overseen by the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works, about 60 percent of those are metered, Holmes said.
While currently organizations are unable to get a grasp of how much their energy their workforce consumes and what that would equate to dollar-wise, Smith and Holmes are working to change that, with a goal of reducing consumption even more. The Army has a cost reduction goal of 5 percent per year in terms of energy costs.
"What our plans are in the future is where we have these automated meters to collect that data and put out mock bills so people can see what they're using and how they compare to others," Smith said.
The Garrison works to save energy through a variety of ways, most commonly through utility energy services contracts, a third party financing mechanism, with the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA will front the Garrison the money to implement energy conservation projects on the installation, which Redstone pays back through savings amortized on its utility bill. Armywide, a total of $2.85 billion have been awarded in utility energy service contracts and energy savings performance contracts, all in an effort to increase resilience while reducing costs.
A UESC is underway in the 3000 area, where crews are in the second phase of a three phase project that is replacing HVAC systems, retrofitting lighting to LED and putting in automation controls to implement thermostat schedules. Once the second phase is completed, the 3200 block of the installation will be tied to a ground-source heat pump. After the third phase, the entirety of the 3000 areas will be off the steam distribution system.
"Just the steam lines themselves represent about 46 percent loss. We're paying for that loss inside the gate," Smith said.
Cost for the North Steam Loop Phase 1 was $9.6 million, with an annual savings of $1.4 million over 7.1 year simple payback period. Phase 2 cost $9.6 million with an annual savings of $941,000 SPB; cost for Phase 3 is $12.4 million with an annual savings of $1.6 million over a 7.6 year SPB.
Smith and Holmes audited 2.3 million square feet last year, looking for ways to reduce energy costs. They are mandated to audit 25 percent of the square footage of buildings on Redstone that make up 75 percent of the installation's energy consumption. Once the audits are complete, they will either work with TVA to create a UESC or develop projects for construction.
Working with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy government research laboratory, controls retuning are also being done in some buildings, which updates the existing control system logic to make it more efficient. Five buildings that underwent retuning in the spring will reap a $221,000 annual cost savings alone.
In addition to reducing consumption, Holmes and Smith are also working to ensure the installation's energy supply is secure and resilient. The Army has a goal of ensuring 14 days' worth of energy and water are available, in case of emergency, such as the April 2011 tornadoes.
"We have a pretty robust, redundant system as it is," Smith said of the installation's power, which is fed from two separate TVA supplies.
The focus for this fiscal year is the installation's energy and water resilience.
"What we were able to accomplish at year-end FY '18, is we awarded to Pacific Northwest National Lab a contract to look at an Installation Energy and water plan, to see where we may have gaps in our resilience," Smith said. "This FY we'll be putting together that plan that will hopefully work towards executable projects that we can implement to improve our security."
For more information about Energy Action Month, visit www.army.mil/standto/2018-10-02