FORT STEWART, Ga. (Feb. 13, 2012) -- Cost-effective, energy-reduction strategies are what the home of the Third Infantry Division is all about. And one directorate at Fort Stewart is doing just that -- saving money and reducing energy one wood chip at a time.

The Directorate of Public Works Forestry Branch and Central Energy Plant, or CEP, works in conjunction towards the Chip and Haul Program, which recycles otherwise unusable lumber debris and converting the debris into a sustainable resource.

"We're really involved in the Chip and Haul process from the very beginning," said Jeff Mangun, chief of the Forestry Branch for DPW. "What we do is conduct commercial timber sales. We're able to go out with our technicians and our foresters and select harvest the trees we want removed. After that is done, our forestry crews follow in after the loggers are completed. We go to these sites where they've hauled the logs and bring our equipment to the piles of debris that are left. We chip the [wood], blow it in the back of the chip vans, which are just big semi-trailers, and haul the chips to the Central Energy Plant here on post."

The resulting energy produces steam for the CEP and chilled water and hot water for approximately 25 to 30 percent of the installation. Facilities that receive energy produced from the CEP include Winn Army Community Hospital, buildings in the 200 block and buildings in the 500 through 800 blocks.

"We're probably going to save about a million dollars a year," said Robert Baumgardt, director of DPW. "I'm really proud of that. The Chip and Haul has never been done here at Fort Stewart before. We looked at the resources. We knew that we needed wood fuel to run our Central Energy Plant. We knew we had a lot of slash out in the woods. We kind of combined the two ideas and said maybe we can do something and save some money."

Once the wood chips arrive to the CEP, it is collected and utilized as a renewable, sustainable energy resource.

"We receive the chips from the DPW Forestry [Branch]," said Randy Parks, Quality Assurance evaluator for the CEP. "[The chips] come in on tractor trailer trucks. We weigh them, check the moisture contents of the wood and dump the trucks in the truck dumper. Thereafter, it goes up a conveyer system and out onto the stock out yard. From there, we move it with front end loaders. We feed wood into a hopper that brings it up to the boiler."

And, the "smoke" that can be seen coming from the plant is not smoke after all. It is the steam that the CEP produces, which is strictly produced for the plant.

"Using wood that we get from Fort Stewart is a lot cleaner," Mangun said. "It burns cleaner. There are fewer problems at the energy plant. The scrubber system stays cleaner. There's less maintenance involved. The sediment ponds stay cleaner. So, it's just good all around. The wood chips are high quality, so they're more energy efficient."

In terms of future money-saving innovations, Baumgardt said that they are primarily trying to save money and energy -- even if it's just the small things.

"We're going down the path of trying to save money," he said. "As we go down this path, it's really a path of discovery. You'll see some initiatives that we have going on like maybe putting exterior window blinds in buildings that keep the heat outside of the room outside, so we can cool the buildings a little bit easier. We're working on some other ideas. So, we have some things that we are working on. It'll take a little bit of time to implement, but it's coming down the pike."