HOHENFELS, Germany -- Installation Management Command-Europe is providing Europe's garrisons with more than $150 million in Sustainment, Restoration and Management funds during fiscal year 2009 which will mean environmental, cost and logistical improvements for U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels that translate into improvements in the quality of life infrastructure for Hohenfels Soldiers, family members and employees.

"In Soldier terms, this means that we in the installation management business will be eliminating some of the backlog of nagging maintenance deficiencies in our barracks and around our communities while simultaneously making some wise capital investments to our infrastructure thus improving sustainability and quality of life," Diane Devens, director of IMCOM-Europe, said in a press release.

Though the expenditures are the equivalent of investing in car repair when you would rather spend that money on a vacation-more critical but not as exciting-according to Josef Koller, USAG Hohenfels Department of Public Works Utilities Branch chief, they are crucial to the garrison's day-to-day operations.

The largest of the three Hohenfels projects is $1.37 million to replace the Utilities Energy Monitoring and Control System.

Not visually exciting, the UEMCS amounts to only a few large computers housed behind a key-pad-protected door in DPW-in reality the system controls almost every technical aspect of life on post and saves the garrison nearly $1.5 million annually in energy and manpower.

According to Koller, there are 33,000 data control devices in 970 facilities throughout post that transmit data like temperature, light, humidity, water treatment and much more back to the main computer.

Most systems are controlled automatically to save energy and money. For example, the UEMCS controls street lamps and automatically turns the heat off in offices at 8 p.m. and back on at 7 a.m. They can tell if an oil tank is about to overflow, averting an environmental disaster. The system even runs a 24-hour alert program, sending a message to the on-call DPW staff if, for example, the heat goes out in the barracks.

"We'll know there is a problem before you even notice something is wrong," said Koller. "All utilities systems on post are 100 percent UEMCS dependent. A break endangers operations of garrison facilities and ultimately the mission."

Koller explained it is for that reason the garrison cannot afford for the system to go down. First built in 1983, he said it is sorely outdated, comparing it to an old personal computer you can no longer get software or technical support for.

In addition to replacing the energy-saving super computer, the garrison will also be using IMCOM-E's SRM funds to repair district heating lines in Camp Nainhof and replace the centralized heating plant in Bldg. 980.

Although they are not flashy projects like a new gym or coffee bar, the heating projects will mean environmental improvements and more reliable services for Soldiers.

Koller said one-third of the heating lines in Camp Nainhof, an area which includes the garrison dining facility and unaccompanied housing, have reached their 30-year life expectancy and are beginning to fail.

In fact, due to faulty lines, the dining facility lost heat twice last year, an unacceptable scenario for a facility that feeds hundreds of Soldiers and civilians every day.

Replacing the lines will ensure reliable heating to those buildings, with no interruptions to the customer during repair, said Koller.

The $500,000 spent to replace the centralized heating plant in Bldg. 980, which provides heat to a complex of buildings occupied by Civilians on the Battlefield, will result in a more environmentally friendly garrison.

DPW will replace the current oil-fired facility with a wood-fired one operated by trees cut from Hohenfels' own training area, thus saving the garrison the cost of purchasing energy from an outside supplier.

Though cutting and burning wood may not seem environmentally friendly, it in fact will reduce the garrison's green gas emissions by 53 tons annually.

The trees must be cut anyway to make room for new growth, and when burned the trees emit the same amount of carbon dioxide they had consumed during the growth stage, making it a carbon-neutral energy source.

Koller said the new heating plant will pay for itself in little more than three-and-a-half years.

Receiving SRM dollars from IMCOM-E to spend on critical capital improvement, will allow USAG Hohenfels to continue other quality of life improvement initiatives such as renovating the Community Activities Center and consolidating services (such as the Post Exchange, Pxtra, Clothing and Sales, Sixt Car Rental and more) along Main Street Hohenfels.