ZUTENDAAL, Belgium — With energy costs and resilience at the forefront of conversations, Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 Zutendaal moves forward with new cutting-edge renovations to tackle energy consumption. Budding ideas of an energy conservation project in 2019 have now come full circle to the final completion of renovations in warehouse 50039.
“We tried to give the 405th a place where they can perform their mission as it should be,” said Mark Fricke, energy manager, explaining how the garrison and the unit sat down four years ago to determine the needs of the mission for 405th Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux (AFSBn-Benelux).
APS-2 Zutendaal now boasts to be the first U.S. Army Garrison Benelux site to use a ground source heat pump. The closed system extracts the heat from the air in the summer, releases it into the ground, and recirculates cool air into the warehouse. Using the ground as a battery in the wintertime, the pump absorbs the stored heat from the earth and distributes it back into the building. This state-of-the-art heating system provides the environment necessary for proper working conditions.
“Something that needs to continue is the early-on inclusion of the unit when it comes to planning and building out the requirements,” said William Bravo, 405th AFSBn-Benelux Interim Site Director. “That is critical to get the unit involved early to say what we need so that [the engineers] can build around the need.”
Renovations such as these come with a price tag, nearly $7.5 million for Zutendaal’s project, but the short and long-term benefits outweigh the expense.
“The [old] system was very rudimentary and there was a lot of heat loss,” said Fricke, explaining how the warmth generated by the forced air of space heaters escaped when the doors opened.
To help further warm the warehouse, the new radiant heat panels installed along the length of the ceiling circulate hot water to warm the walls, floor, and objects instead of the air. These improvements are known to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent from previous methods.
“This gives you the feeling that you’re walking in the sunshine,” said Fricke. Heat absorbed by objects is a more effective way of sustaining warmth in an area, and additionally, maintenance is minimal compared to older systems.
“There are a lot of costs that aren’t there anymore,” said Fricke. “[And] we don’t need as much energy as before.” Each of these renovations decrease the amount used and also decrease the energy bill. Less energy reliance translates to quicker recovery in times of shortage or calamity.
That’s not all. The renovation project also included installation of LED lighting, a building management system to more quickly detect potential mechanical issues, insulation, and a white rooftop to reflect the summer sun. Energy efficiency remained key in determining the important factors of the project, but considering the Army mission at the site was also crucial.
“Our role in this is use of the facility,” said Bravo. “This site is critical to the maintenance activity that is part of our care of supplies and storage for the Army Prepositioned Stocks.”
The renovations completed in warehouse 50039 now situate activities directly across the street from the main headquarters building. The 3,000 pieces of rolling stock—machinery that is powered with wheels—at APS-2 Zutendaal can now more efficiently pass through maintenance controls.
“This almost doubles our capability for [comprehensive] maintenance which brings [stock] up to readiness standards before it’s issued to a unit in its fullest capacity,” said Bravo.
Bravo also went on to explain the importance of a quality work environment for employees. A more suitable environment and proper tools makes for happier and healthier workers. The renovations did just that.
“Higher morale increases production in itself, [and] it allows them to do their job faster and efficiently,” said Bravo. “We’ve got a valuable workforce that is willing to give their part to the U.S. Army’s mission. It’s important to them to have the facilities they need to do their job.”
The warehouse renovations have checked all the boxes for energy conservation and mission readiness. According to Fricke, more changes are on the horizon with hopes to build a solar panel field to increase electrical production.