LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Shades of Green is getting greener.

In accordance with the U.S. Army's 25-year Energy and Water Plan for Installations, officials at the Armed Forces Recreation Center on Walt Disney World Resort got with the plan quicker than Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

"We all like a challenge, and energy is a good one," Shades of Green General Manager Brian Japak said. "We are trying to reduce our energy usage by 30 percent annually, and energy here is about a million dollars a month, with 80 percent of that being electricity."

The Army Energy and Water Campaign Plan for Installations was designed to help the Army provide safe, secure, reliable, environmentally compliant, and cost-effective energy and water services to Soldiers, Families, civilians, and contractors on Army installations.

Developed in 2005, the campaign plan implements the Army Energy Strategy for Installations and sets forth the Army's 25-year energy goals through 2030. The Campaign Plan defines actions and the short, mid, and long-term methods, tools, technologies, and projects required to ensure the Army successfully achieves long-range energy and water goals and arrives at a more secure energy dependent future.

The Energy Strategy sets the general direction for the Army with five major initiatives supported by specific objectives:

Aca,!Ac Eliminate energy waste in existing facilities: Reduce and eliminate energy inefficiencies
that waste natural and financial resources, and do so in a manner that does not
adversely impact mission or the comfort and quality of the facilities in which Soldiers,
Families, civilians, and contractors work and live.

Aca,!Ac Increase energy efficiency in new construction and renovations: Increase the use of
energy technologies that provide the greatest cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency,
and environmental sustainability.

Aca,!Ac Reduce dependence on fossil fuels: Increase the use of clean, renewable energy and
improve efficiency of existing energy systems to reduce dependency on fossil fuels
and to optimize environmental sustainability.

Aca,!Ac Conserve water resources: Reduce water use to conserve water resources for
drinking and domestic purposes.

Aca,!Ac Improve energy security: Provide for the security and reliability of energy and water
systems in order to provide dependable utility services.

It did not take long for Shades of Green officials to find ways to save.

"We started off by looking at what stays on 24 hours per day," Japak explained. "We found garage lights that were on 24 hours a day, stairwell lamps that were on 24 hours a day, ventilation fans in the guest laundry that stayed on 24 hours a day, and stuff like that."

Daylight sensors were installed to conserve electricity in the parking garage.

"For the exhaust fans in the garage, we put carbon monoxide sensors up so if they sense carbon monoxide, they turn on," Japak said. "If there are no cars running, they turn off.

"If you walk through the hallways, you probably feel like 'Get Smart' because of the sensors that flick the lights on. If you're in the bathroom and the lights go off, wave your hands."

That was an inside joke meant for staffers who work in the employee side of the house at Shades of Green, not the guests.

"On weekends, the administrative offices are closed, so we raise the set points and let the temperature creep up," Japak said. "For every degree here in Florida that we raise the temperature, it's a three percent savings for the hotel.

"So in the summer we let the set points go up in the hotel."

Lighting is an important element of the ambiance at Shades of Green, but it is another facet to consider when cost-cutting. The hotel is in the process of converting to fluorescent and LED lights.

"If you look at our total electric bill, 50 percent is HVAC, which is heating, ventilation and air conditioning," Japak said. "Thirty percent is lighting. Twenty percent is other, which includes kitchen, computers and the miscellaneous stuff.

"Lighting is important. Ambiance is very important, but there are areas that are way over-lit."

Another goal is to get maximum life out of lights.

"We started looking at how often we change light bulbs and thought of maybe doing it just once a year to save on the labor," Japak said. "But then we found out that we had 167 different light bulb types in the hotel. Currently, we're down to 100 different light bulb types. Our goal is 30 different light bulb types."

Based on adjusted average temperatures, Shades of Green saved 150,000 kilowatts in September 2010 and 127,000 kilowatts in October.

"Even though these are not mind-boggling efforts, they do save money and energy," Japak said. "It's interesting that 10 years ago Shades of Green did an Energy Savings Performance Contract and it just recently ended. That put frequency drives on our chiller plant and we re-lamped the whole hotel to go with electronic ballasts."

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently designated Shades of Green as a Florida Green Lodge.

"So we've been kind of green for a long time," Japak said. "This is just a continuation of those efforts."