Fort Knox earns 13th Secretary of Army energy award for LED project at Godman Airfield runways
(from left) Fort Knox Energy Program manager RJ Dyrdek, Fort Knox Garrison Commander Col. Lance O’Bryan and Godman Army Airfield manager Rickey Webb listen in Oct. 29, 2021, as Fort Knox is praised for successfully innovating and modernizing the airfield’s runways with LED lighting, a trailblazing move never before accomplished by other Army organizations. Fort Knox was one of 10 installations and four individuals awarded at the virtual 2021 Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Awards. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Three members of Fort Knox Garrison gathered at the Garrison Headquarters conference room Oct. 29 to attend an award ceremony.

Dialed into a video teleconference attended by more than 75 winners, leaders and organizations from across the Army, Garrison Commander Col. Lance O’Bryan, Energy Program manager RJ Dyrdek, and Godman Army Airfield manager Rickey Webb listened as an announcer from the 2021 Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Awards shared what set Fort Knox apart from others.

“They had an annual energy savings of 83,000 mega BTUs, an annual cost avoidance of $58,000, and a payback of 10.7 years,” said the announcer.

The savings came from a lighting project born of necessity that turned into a first-of-its-kind in the Army.

“U.S. Army Garrison Fort Knox’s Godman Army Airfield experienced a catastrophic failure in the spring of 2019 of the airfield lighting system,” continued the announcer. “The failure directly affected mission readiness and resulted in an overarching safety and operational issue.”

The airfield is considered the oldest runway in Kentucky, dating back to its establishment as a wartime airfield in 1918. According to Webb, Godman’s wiring had probably last seen an update sometime in the 1940s. Rain and time took its toll.

Dyrdek said the failure brought together key members of the garrison team to find a working solution. That brainstorming effort led to the LED lighting project that has put the installation front and center of the way ahead for all Army airfield lighting.

The $5.3 million upgrades and subsequent savings in energy and Army funds has led leaders to look at upgrading other airfield runways with LED lighting.

“The airfield [Directorate of Plans, Training, Mission and Support] guys went out on a limb and got the Army recognizing that nobody has advanced an airfield with LED lighting, and if we didn’t do it soon, we were going to run out of incandescent lightbulbs across the Army,” said Dyrdek. “They put in applications, and waivers, and all kinds of things to better the opportunity for the Army to step forward and take a test on one airfield.

“We’re sort of the innovative ones, but we’re also the guinea pig for the rest of the airfields.”

Other installations also earned awards at the ceremony, including fellow Kentucky installation Fort Campbell, for Energy and Water Resilience Program Effectiveness. Near the end of the Fort Knox award announcement, in the Innovation and New Technology category, a chat box opened from the Secretary of the Army—

“Congratulations! RJ and team DOING stuff”

The Fort Knox garrison team has now won Army-level awards 11 of the past 15 years, bagging a couple of awards in two of those years for a total of 13.

“I’m very impressed!” said Dyrdek. “This shows how we continue to operate as a team even after 15 years.”