FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When people think about what single source of energy consumption is responsible for the highest amount of air pollution and contributes to excessive amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, they think of automobiles.

While it's certainly true that transportation is responsible for a great portion of the pollution we see today, the fact that our homes cause more pollution than the automobiles often surprises people.

The buildings where we live and work contribute far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the cars we drive. Therefore a great place to make a big impact on our carbon footprint is to fine tune the buildings. Currently there are 11 projects which aim to fine-tune or retro-commission many of the buildings on Fort Bragg.

This pipeline of retro-commissioning projects aims to make a large impact on the 25 million square feet of floor space on the installation which is under the responsibility of the Directorate of Public Works.

The objective of retro-commissioning, according to leaders in energy and environmental design for existing buildings, is to evaluate and repair building operating systems of buildings. This commissioning is much like the 60,000 mile tune up performed on your automobile to insure the transmission and drive train work properly. The evaluation will identify design, construction and maintenance issues that impact energy use and occupant comfort and productivity.

Recommendations will also be developed for improvements that will reduce energy intensity. Retro-commissioning can have as fast as a two year or less payback on the investment made to fund the project.

One of the most significant challenges facing the Fort Bragg DPW is maintaining over 25 million square feet of air conditioned buildings with a very limited maintenance staff. The retro-commissioning program is the key to assuring that the building systems, especially the HVAC systems, are working properly. Additionally the retro-commissioning process will insure that the building controls can be monitored and managed via the utility monitoring and control system. The DPW's objective is to retro-commission every energy intensive building over 20 KSF to:

Improve environmental conditions for the occupants
Reduce complaints and break-down maintenance work orders Reduce energy usage
Reduce facility life cycle operating cost and increase facility life

The results in other retro-commissioning projects on Fort Bragg have been exceeding the expectations of those involved with the program. By correcting problems, providing an in-depth knowledge of each building and developing a backlog of work orders for future improvements and energy reductions measures the operators are able to save energy, time and money.

The Fort Bragg retro-commissioning projects promise to reduce consumption, prevent greenhouse gas emissions, lower the energy bill and pay for itself in only four years. Given these facts it certainly sounds like a win-win project so thankfully this is only the beginning. As the 10 other retro-commissioning projects get under way, the installation will see huge savings in annual energy costs and carbon emissions.