Phase I of the Energy Saving Performance Contract initiated in 2017 on Fort Riley to reduce energy consumption and water usage ended March 31.

The $38 million phase focused on Custer Hill buildings installing LED lighting inside and out, low-flow water fixtures and replacing streetlights.

"The Energy Saving Performance Contracting mechanism was largely encouraged under president (Barack) Obama," said Mike Witmer, chief of the Utilities and Energy Branch, Directorate of Public Works. "It was an initiative to do $4 billion worth of contracts."

Phase II, $28 million in upgrades, will focus on main post, Marshall Army Airfield, Camp Funston and the Forsyth area, Witmer said.

The upgrades will pay for themselves with cost savings to the installation, Witmer said.

"So, for our $28 million investment we should save $1.5 million a year over the 22 years of the contract," he said. "So, the way it is set up, the energy savings have to pay for itself. They have to pay for the value of the contract over the life of the contract or they don't let you do it."

Witmer said the lighting alone in Phase I has already saved more than $250,000.

"We've seen noticeable differences in the consumption and the cost to the installation so far," he said. "By the end of the second phase, pretty much every building on Fort Riley will have LED lights inside and out. We'll have reduced the water consumption by 10 to 15 percent due to the fixtures we're putting out to low-flow fixtures.

"Roughly a third of our high energy consuming buildings will have a complete reset of the HVAC systems in them. Not a replacement, but a rehab of the stuff that is there to make it work correctly."

Of the changes, building occupants will feel will be adjustments to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning settings.

"Army regulation 420-1 stipulates what the temperatures are allowed to be for summer cooling and winter heating," Witmer said. "They stipulate no colder than 72 degrees in the summer and no warmer than 70 in the winter. You can't just do what you want. If you were paying the bills where would you set it at? Thankfully we're not 78 and 68 like we were five years ago.

"There will be a significant effort to put what we call occupancy based thermostats in a lot of spaces, even in the barracks rooms," he said. "So that there is a motion sensor that detects heat or movement to keep the systems on as long as there is someone in the area. If they are gone for more than an hour, it will allow the system to start moving the temperature back until there is movement again, then it brings it back up to whatever the regulated temperature is."

Phase II started with Southland Energy working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Alabama. They are in the process of doing their submittals and getting their plans approved. Witmer expects the phase to move into the buildings on Marshall Army Airfield in late April or early May due to the Combat Aviation Brigade being deployed.

"Then they will move to main post, then probably to (Camp) Funston," he said. "Forsyth, I would anticipate being last because that's the fewest number of buildings they have."

Witmer said how the process should proceed.

"What should happen, three weeks before they are planning on coming in they'll send someone around to notify the occupant -- 'Hey this is who we are, this is what we're going to be doing, this is where we are going to be doing it, we plan on coming in three weeks, how does that work for you guys,'" he said. "So that it could be shuffled around if they are in a critical mission or if it's inconvenient due to mission.

"For the most part they are coordinating with each building owner -- what they need to do, how long they're going to be in there and for access to the different areas," he said. "We had a lot of success in Phase I, -- very few instances where it was a major inconvenience to the occupants."

This only affects government-owned buildings, not family housing, he said.

"This is just what we call real property, it has to be government-owned facilities, where the government is paying for the utilities," he said. "Things that are excluded -- anything in housing -- which Corvias owns. If we take a facility like the Post Office for example, the government owns the building but the postal service pays the utilities. We can't legally touch that under this contract."

Prior to the beginning of the project, Fort Riley had a peak demand of 44-megawatts and between the contract and the efforts by Corvias, Witmer is anticipating a reduction to 30- to 32-megawatts.

"So, we're talking a 25 percent reduction off our peak," he said. "What does that mean dollar wise? That could mean $1 million easily."

The funding for the project is like mortgaging a home, Witmer said. The difference is the cost savings for energy reduction has to pay the loan back to the third-party lender.

"The loan is actually the repayment plan for the contract," he said. "The $2.5 million in savings has to cover that as well. It's an energy savings funded vehicle."

The biggest takeaway Witmer said, is energy conservation takes everyone.

"The most important thing [people] need to take away from this is, this is just a component of energy conservation," he said. "You can put in all the greatest equipment you can find, but it's up to the individual occupants to really make use of it to save energy. If you let it run all the time, you're not really saving energy."