With many Fort Belvoir employees still teleworking, at least part time, Garrison officials are hoping to consolidate offices and spaces, to save money and energy. And, they need input from facility and building managers, to make the process as efficient as possible.
“This ultimately saves costs for the taxpayer; Army garrisons and commands and the DoD,” said Brad Britain, Fort Belvoir Garrison director of Public Works. “It’s just a next, logical step, when we’re still coming out of a pandemic and there have been drastic changes to offices and work patterns.”
Britain and other Garrison specialists can help mission partners, facility and building managers through the process. “If you have under-used space, let us know, and we’ll help do what’s needed to make consolidating easier,” he said.
“There was a huge shift from commuting to teleworking, for many typical office workers on Belvoir,” Britain said. “That, and social distance requirements, has changed the typical office dynamics, almost everywhere.”
As a result, Belvoir has several empty offices, but not many empty buildings.
“Some buildings have seven or so people working there, and each person has their own microwave and refrigerator running,” he said. “They could and should be emptied, cleaned out, consolidated and unplugged,” adding there are many areas where efficient energy use can save money.
“Many offices and cubicles are assigned to specific people, and cannot consolidate because the employee is not completely on telework, but coming in two or three days a week,” Britain said.
Using less energy, water and natural gas, anywhere, definitely has savings.”
Tim Ngo, energy manager at DPW’s Engineering Division, said that energy changes will be made in some buildings, but safety, security and indoor air quality standards will still be met. He added that indoor air quality affects dry, cracking walls and furniture; and temperature changes affect equipment overheating. Additionally, care will be taken to ensure legally required apparatus, like groundwater-monitoring equipment, stays on.
Ahead of consolidating, though, everyone can implement other energy-conservation ideas in their spaces.
Ngo suggests the following cost-savings measures in unused spaces:
• Turn off lights
• Turn off unused computers, printers and speakers.
• Keep working computers in ‘sleep’ mode, when possible, for necessary IT updates.
• Remove devices like space heaters and kitchen appliances
• Turn off all non-emergency lights at night. (Because of fire code, some emergency lights never turn off.)
• Turn off parking lot and exterior lights, except those needed for safety and security
• Report parking lot and exterior lights on during day time, through Aleut’s Service Desk.
• Request a review and possible adjustment of HVAC temperature set points
• Close exterior doors to prevent heat gain and loss.
DPW and Fort Belvoir mission partners are identifying areas that can be streamlined by using less electricity and having fewer temperature changes.
“Once we get numbers of consistent, current employees and future expectations from our partners, we’ll know how we can be more efficient and save money,” Britain said.
He said updated occupancy information is important, because it plays into Belvoir’s short- and long-term planning; support services; and subsequent manning issues; security, emergency service and infrastructure needs.