PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (April 20, 2023) – To borrow a term from sports, U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey scored a “hat trick”—three scores in one game—with their energy-saving project in Bldgs. 619, 621 and 623, which are connected by hallways.
The first score was reducing the number of hours the heat was on when people are not in the buildings, which the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center uses for instruction. Then personnel slowed down the heating system’s fans, which decreased electricity use and increased heat distribution. Finally, personnel discovered they could reduce the use of bathroom fans, and electricity, by installing timers so they do not run when no one is in the building.
“The gas use in the building has really dropped, and of course so has electrical usage, and people are more comfortable, so this is a huge win,” said Richard Thorne, energy manager for USAG PoM. The expected savings is about $4,000 annually.
As the world celebrates Earth Day on April 22, Thorne said the project is one example of how the garrison is trying to save taxpayer dollars and help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The garrison also has other significant projects in the works.
For example, the garrison also plans to install solar panels and a battery on the Aiso Library, Thorne said. Not only does the library already have a meter that will allow them to monitor energy savings, it is also on a circuit that is near capacity. The project will remove the library’s load on the circuit, and will further reduce the load by sending excess solar energy back onto the circuit for other buildings to use.
“A lot of times solar will produce a lot more energy than what your building needs and that excess energy has to go somewhere,” Thorne said.
In addition, and in a similar vein, garrison officials would like to connect the solar array on top of the Price Fitness Center with the nearby Belas Dining Facility, Thorne said. The power would likely flow through above-ground power lines, since that would be the least expensive option, and the expected savings is about $6,400 annually.
The circuit that provides power to that part of the installation is prone to power outages during windy and rainy weather, so connecting the buildings would significantly reduce the need to use the dining facility’s generator during power outages, Thorne said.
The solar panels at the fitness center provide about three times as much as what that building needs, so some of the extra power can go to the dining hall, Thorne said.
“Then, as the sun sets, your batteries can keep it going say for a couple of hours and then your generators will run until you want to close the dining hall for the evening at 10 o’clock or 11,” Thorne said. “So instead of your generators running all the time for a full day, now they’re just running for a couple of hours.”
In addition, garrison officials plan to reduce gas usage for heating in Bldg. 622, a barracks building for Soldiers, Thorne said.
The heating system relies on outside air temperature to determine when the boiler runs, and since the individual rooms do not have thermostats, rooms on the third floor, for example, can become hot when the outside temperatures are in the mid-range of 50 to 60 degrees, Thorne said.
“We’re looking at adjusting the outside air reset to be a little bit more aggressive, and that’s just programming,” Thorne said. “That’s very, very low cost and we can probably save 5 to 10% of our gas usage just by doing that.”
Thorne said that with the increased costs of electricity and gas, the Army is similar to individual consumers in that officials want to find the best way to spend money.
“The Army would much rather spend that money on better equipment for the troops and better lesson plans for the [DLIFLC],” Thorne said. “There are a lot of ways of spending it instead of literally burning it up in a natural gas-fired power plant.”