PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 20, 2022) — A refurbished heating and ventilation system at the Ord Military Community’s Post Exchange not only saves $43,000 in energy costs annually, but also makes the building more comfortable for customers and employees.
Richard Thorne, energy manager for U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, said the project is one of four energy projects the garrison completed this year that he expects will save taxpayers a total of more than $52,000 annually. While the garrison planned three of the projects well in advance, a simple observation led to the fourth — showing it always pays to be on the lookout for energy savings.
The PX project is the largest of the four projects, and to accomplish the savings, contractors refurbished all the existing heating and ventilating units that serve the main PX store and adjoining mall stores, Thorne said. They also added new controls to the system.
“The units are from the late 1970s or mid 1980s and had not been overhauled in a very long time,” Thorne said. “It was ripe for an energy project.”
Given the cool temperatures in Monterey year-round, air conditioning is not necessary, so the system pulls air from outside the building and distributes it inside, Thorne said. The old system ran all day, but the new system, which came online in the spring, runs only 20% of the time.
The new unit’s air dampers and controls modulate the fan speed and damper position to provide the right amount of air for heating, ventilation and cooling, Thorne said. Energy savings comes from reducing the fan speed in heating and ventilation modes.
The system’s computerized control panel allows operators to see if something is wrong with the system and fix it before customers and employees even notice there’s a problem, Thorne said.
In addition, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service paid for the replacement of aging fluorescent lighting with more energy-efficient LEDs, Thorne said.
“This energy project, along with the AAFES lighting project, as resulted in almost 30% energy savings when comparing FY22 to pre-COVID FY2019,” Thorne said. “With the new controls and air dampers, the building is much more comfortable and less stagnate.”
Another project in Building 618, Munzer Hall, an administrative building for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, involved adjusting the heating and cooling airflow rates and the outside airflow for each variable air volume zone box to the correct amounts, Thorne said.
Thorne said that any time technicians can decrease a motor speed, it leads to power savings. “Even small changes in speed changes can result in significant power savings,” he said.
In addition, employees often leave the front doors to the building open for an ocean breeze, Thorne said, and this eliminates the need for a fan. “Again, saving quite a bit of energy keeping the fan off when it is not needed,” he said.
These simple programming changes resulted in about 20% energy savings comparing FY2022 energy bills to pre-COVID 2019 energy bills, or a savings of about $3,000 annually, Thorne said.
Another project at Building 4283, the Porter Youth Center, saved about $6,000 annually by adjusting the heating system controls to better match the occupancy usage, Thorne said.
The heating system was coming on too early, Thorne said, and the air systems also came on too early—pushing cold air into the building until the heating system started.
To fix the problem, technicians updated the system’s schedules to start the heating system first, then the air system about 30 minutes before occupancy, Thorne said. They also programmed in all the federal holidays. In addition to saving money, the building is also more comfortable.
The fourth project Thorne spearheaded himself after noticing that a fan at the World Café across the street from his office was always on.
“During a recent coffee stop I asked the World Café owner about the fan,” Thorne said. “It turns out the fan is controlled by a simple switch. The fan is left on to ensure the space is not too hot in the morning. Once that kitchen gets going early, it takes no time before the space is really warm, especially if there was no air circulation before opening.”
Thorne submitted a work request, and technicians will install a simple programmable timer and reverse the fan’s airflow direction to blow air into the space instead of exhaust, Thorne said.
The simple fix will reduce the fan energy consumption by about 70% and save about $90 annually, Thorne said.
To report ideas that might save energy at USAG PoM, contact Thorne at (831) 242-4296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.