STUTTGART, Germany -- It’s not just your own home energy bills that are rising: rising costs are affecting all of society. Have you ever spared a thought for your workplace and its budgets? Probably not, right? But these mega consumers of energy are working on lowering energy costs every day. Perhaps we can all take a leaf out of their book.
Using renewable energy is one way employers like the garrison are reducing not only the financial uncertainty of fluctuating prices, but also their reliance on external energy sources. Renewable energy, though, comes at its own cost.
The next time you are walking around USAG Stuttgart, look up and you will notice black square panels bolted somewhat unceremoniously on top of many buildings. While not in keeping with the 1940’s style aesthetics, these photovoltaic panels are the future of energy - solar panels turning light into electricity and helping the garrison generate its own power.
Even though these panels adorn more than 20 USAG Stuttgart buildings, they generate just 0.43% of the garrison's total power. The rest comes from a local energy supplier.
Renewable energy makes up 65% of all electricity used by the garrison; 21% comes from coal, 3.8% through natural gas and 8.9% through nuclear energy, according to statistics provided by the Directorate of Public Works.
“Generating more electricity through sustainable means is something that the garrison hopes - and is targeted to continuously improve,” said Dominik Lee Barlow, USAG Stuttgart energy manager.
Barlow is responsible for developing projects that save energy, such as the recently approved solar roof panel that is soon to be installed on top of stairwell housing buildings on Kelley Barracks.
“In the Kelley Barracks housing area, we have eight buildings and every building will receive a solar power system on its roof,'' Barlow said. “It is hoped that these panels could supply up to 30% of the electrical energy consumed in these homes.”
Projects to reduce energy consumption on Kelley Barracks are not limited to electricity, Barlow said, as the heating system will also be replaced with a much more efficient system to reduce heating costs for the building.
As the garrison generates more sustainable energy, some people might wish to use some of that energy to charge their vehicles. Projects to install electric car charging ports are also an Installation Management Command (IMCOM) initiative, with at least four charging spots anticipated for each installation by 2025.
“Sustainable energy projects come at an initial cost to the garrison, but the initial financial outlay for energy initiatives like solar panels must be recovered within seven years through energy savings,” said USAG Stuttgart Garrison Commander Col. Matt Ziglar. “While we might not always see all of the benefits immediately, we pursue these projects to ensure that the future of our energy consumption is greener, cheaper and more sustainable for future generations.”
While IMCOM invests millions of dollars in large scale projects to reduce costs and emissions, including initiatives such as low energy bulbs in all apartments, lower flow water tanks for toilets and showers, you can also help lower your consumption and reduce energy bills while doing your part for the planet. Simple things like closing doors, turning off lights, turning radiators off when windows are open means you can do your part in saving the environment.