By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsNovember 2, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 2, 2018) -- Fort Drum's energy manager was recognized recently at both the U.S. Army and federal levels for exceptional service and commitment to promoting energy conservation on post.
Steve Rowley received a career exceptional service award Oct. 23 from the Federal Energy Management Program in Washington, D.C., and a Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management award during a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, in August.
"I feel honored to be selected for two exceptional awards by both the Secretary of the Army and the Department of Energy. It is a fitting way to finish up my career here at Fort Drum," said Rowley, who plans to retire next April.
Thirty-two years ago, Rowley transitioned from an engineering career in Watertown, New York, to become Fort Drum's first full-time energy manager within the former Directorate of Engineering and Housing (now Public Works).
Rowley said that he became involved in energy conservation in the late 1970s. As a board member at Faith Fellowship Church in Watertown, he volunteered to prepare an energy audit on the school building they had acquired. Rowley continued to implement several quality energy projects over the years for the church.
Rowley said that he submitted that initial energy audit during the hiring process at Fort Drum, and it impressed the Environmental Division chief at the time.
"So, I had been involved with energy conservation, informally, for a long time, before it became my job in 1986," he said. "Prior to the expansion at Fort Drum, energy conservation fell under the Environmental Division. There were like two people in the office, and so when I came in there were three."
As Fort Drum grew from a seasonal training post to home of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), Rowley developed energy efficiencies in installation practices and new facility designs.
"My start as energy manager coincided with the beginning of the Fort Drum expansion to house the newly activated 10th Mountain Division (LI)," he said. "I was able to watch, as well as participate, in the building up of Fort Drum to the modern Army post we enjoy today."
Rowley said that he initially concentrated on U.S. Army Forces Command-funded projects such as building insulation, new furnaces, HVAC controls and lighting upgrades.
By the early 1990s, FORSCOM contracted Pacific Northwest Labs to conduct a complete assessment of the buildings, utilities and energy systems on post.
"The study was an invaluable blueprint for developing energy projects for funding through the Department of Defense Federal Energy Management Program," Rowley said.
He oversaw the largescale fuel oil-to-natural gas conversion program - an effort that took nearly 20 years and spanned several different projects - in addition to a $16 million High Temperature Hot Water system-to-natural gas conversion project on North Post.
"It was quite a challenge, but it was a good move," Rowley said. "Natural gas is cheaper, and the equipment is much more efficient. We used to always have problems with fuel oil running out in the middle of winter and buildings freezing up, but that's gone away."
The installation of a postwide utility monitoring and control system in 2005 resulted in annual energy savings approaching $1 million.
Additionally, solar walls were installed in 53 buildings with a projected annual savings of $32,000 in natural gas costs. Fort Drum earned the Solar Energy Industries Association Award for New York State's Best Federal Award Project in 2010.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers incorporated photovoltaic systems in four military construction projects at four building sites. The combined savings in electric costs is metered at approximately $43,000 a year.
His efforts have resulted in a 17.26-percent energy use reduction in fiscal year 2017, from a FY 2015 baseline.
Rowley has supported the Army's research and development program with projects to include super insulation testing, solar wall testing and a micro turbine demonstration. He is also credited with improving workforce development through energy conservation training for assigned building energy monitors and in-processing briefings for new Soldiers.
Promoting energy conservation can be challenging, he said, so he'll insert some funny pictures in the slide deck during presentations, "just to make it more interesting."
"Energy conservation can be one of the most boring subjects I can think of," Rowley said. "I mean, energy guys love talking to each other about it, and we can discuss energy conservation projects we're working on for hours. But this is just not interesting to the general public. So you have to keep the briefings light-hearted, which I always try to do."
Rowley isn't sure if the next energy manager will serve as long as he has, but he is sure there will be plenty of challenges and chances to make an impact with future energy goals.
"I've had an interesting and rewarding career here," he said. "Just seeing how this post has grown and to be on the cutting edge of a lot of new technologies and renewable energies, it has been very good."