A small group of government civilian officials and contractors from the Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works mingled with lighting engineering elites from across the world at the 2019 Illuminating Engineer Society conference at the Omni Louisville Hotel Aug. 9.

The Fort Knox contingent was invited, alongside nine other private-sector and federal awardees, to be honored for DPW's accomplishments for multiple installation lighting upgrades since 2015, receiving four total awards in the 2019 Department of Energy's Better Buildings Interior Lighting Campaign.

"It is very humbling being here," said RJ Dyrdek, DPW energy manager. "If you look at some of the other award winners, they're not government-related. Many are private industry, like Target and Walgreens -- corporations that are obviously all around the country."

Michael Myer, senior lighting researcher, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy national lab, said Fort Knox's DPW team, including the members of CEG Solutions behind the engineering feats, deserved the honor.

"What stood out was, we have an open narrative on why lighting controls are novel -- they produced a challenge where previously their emergency lighting was on all the time, and that's not uncommon although it's against the code. When they did a retrofit, they really minimized what needed to be on for emergency purposes, and that allowed them to save energy.

"Their narrative was well supported and documented."

The Fort Knox lighting project included the installation of over 53,000 LED fixtures and lamps, and 1,500 lighting controls, in more than 100 buildings that has already saved the Army more than 7 million kilowatt hours of energy. Engineers installed over 13,000 fixtures in one building alone -- Human Resources Command's Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude Complex.

Judges for the awards included a mix of officials from DOE, IES and International Association of Lighting Management Companies. The three organizations co-organized both the competition and the annual conference.

"The organizations who do this set the standard for lighting in the country," said Dyrdek. "Everybody follows their lead, so we're very honored by having the Army recognized."

Dyrdek was surprised when Fort Knox received more than one award.

"The way we interpreted the application, we should submit for the smallest award," said Dyrdek. "They said we had the largest savings and the largest scale, so they put us in for the small, medium, large and most innovative. We ended up winning them all."

The categories, more specifically, were highest absolute annual savings for lighting retrofits (small project), highest absolute annual savings for lighting retrofits (medium project), highest absolute annual savings for lighting retrofits (large project), and best use of lighting controls in a single building. The Innovative category was a new addition to the awards this year.

Myer said while the DOE seeks to provide a celebration of those who have completed outstanding projects in energy cost savings and modern lighting with its award program, there is also an ulterior motive behind it.

"We want to celebrate it; people like being recognized for good efforts. We also want to encourage a little positive peer pressure that says, 'Hey, this organization can save a lot of energy or a large percent of their energy. If the Army can do it, a major retailer can do it, and a church can do it, why aren't you doing it?'"

The senior engineer at CEG Solutions behind the creative design that produced the cost savings for the Army, Gavin Gui, joined Dyrdek on the stage when Karma Sawyer, program manager for Emerging Technologies at the Department of Energy, announced the awards.

"I'm so proud of this award, but it takes a whole team to make all of this work," said Gui. "I can't emphasize enough that we have gotten tremendous support from the Fort Knox team."