By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)June 30, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - Wiesbaden garrison environmental engineers joined their host nation counterparts on Wiesbaden Army Airfield June 17 to look at ways to improve energy conservation efforts.
Part of the ongoing Oekoprofit initiative launched in 2000 and joined by the Wiesbaden military community in October 2007, last year's program culminated with recognition by Lord Mayor Helmut MAfA1/4ller of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's dedicated efforts and strong focus on promoting and improving environmental awareness.
"The U.S. Army is pro-environment and has the initiative to go green - and this goes in the same direction," said Axel Grell, an environmental specialist with the garrison's Directorate of Public Works.
The initiative, which brings Oekoprofit partners from corporate, city and U.S. military institutions together with subject matter experts, seeks better ways of using and sustaining resources while protecting the environment.
"We share ideas and take part in brainstorming sessions," said Grell. "During our conferences we have guest speakers who tell us about various environmentally friendly products."
"We also get together to learn from each other," said Mirco Grimm, acting chief of the garrison's Environmental Management Office. "We have different environmental themes as part of each workshop."
"Each company in Oekoprofit sets a goal," said Grell, explaining that this year's Oekoprofit initiative for USAG Wiesbaden is to improve the overall energy and environmental management of the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
"We wanted to have an example that everyone could understand," said Grimm, explaining that because of the fitness center's prominent place in the community and wide use by many different groups, it provides a showcase for how operations can be better managed to save energy, reduce costs and better manage resources.
Last year the garrison took aim at improving energy use and reducing waste in several airfield hangars, the dining facility and a motor pool. As part of the Oekoprofit initiative radiant heat panels were installed in aircraft hangar ceilings, and a consolidated Recycling Center was installed on Wiesbaden Army Airfield (near Building 1036).
With this year's fitness center energy improvement project, engineers will "look at ways to reduce energy consumption and waste streams to enhance recycling," said Grell.
The energy efficiency goal for the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden is to save at least 3 percent per year or 30 percent by 2015 (Energy Efficiency goal of the Executive Order 13423 - Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management), he said.
After having already introduced several measures to better manage how lighting, heating and other energy aspects of the facility are handled, the engineers pointed to a savings of about 30 percent from January through May of this year. This entailed altering the automatic system which turned all of the lights on or off at one time, reducing air conditioner use and better heat management resulting in a savings of around Ac'A!7,000 a month, Grell said.
Future potential projects include a system to better regulate when lights are turned on or off, timed lighting in the racquetball courts and possibly a solar-generated system to heat domestic water.
Grell and Grimm added that engineers will continue to survey customer use and monitor how operations are impacted during the summer and on into fall and winter.
While the Oekoprofit initiative ensures a better/effective management of resources in conjunction with established garrison environmental programs, the engineers explained that it has "three-fold benefits." In addition to helping save energy and resources, "it helps make people more aware in the community of ways to save energy and reduce waste," said Grell. "And we spread the message to the local German community that Americans aren't the bad guys - they are proactive in joining local companies and invite them on-post to evaluate our energy use."
"Sometimes it's helpful to know that other companies are facing similar issues, and sometimes there are very easy solutions to solving problems," said Grimm. "I think that is a big benefit for us."
At the end of the year the members of Oekoprofit will meet in Wiesbaden to examine how each company dealt with its environmental challenges, to share success stories with each other for possible future implementation and to be recognized and certified by the city of Wiesbaden for their efforts.
"That's the final proof that we are actively engaged in environmental awareness, being recognized by the public as part of the city and the local community," said Grell.