FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Energy conservation is being tackled one bulb at a time through lighting initiatives promoted by the Directorate of Public Works and the installation's operations and maintenance contractor, Fort Carson Support Services.

In an effort to push installation net zero energy objectives forward, DPW has initiated a several-phase project to replace high-bay lighting in facilities. This year, more energy-efficient bulbs were installed in 22 buildings through funds from the Army's Army Quality of Life Utility Modernization funding program.

"The project literally replaced thousands of fixtures," said Scott Clark, DPW energy program coordinator.

There were 5,673 lights retrofitted, re-lamped or replaced in facilities from February-September, including gymnasiums, motor pools, a fire station, the auto hobby shop, aircraft hangars and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security simulation facility.

In high bay areas, 250 watt, 400 watt and some 1,000 watt metal halide fixtures were replaced with fluorescent lights and automatic timers were added that shut off lighting after duty hours. Administrative areas also had their lighting upgraded and occupancy sensors installed.

Overall, the lighting project will yield at least a 30-percent reduction in energy use and possibly as much as 50 percent in some areas, said Clark. The initiative is estimated to save Fort Carson up to $60,000 annually.

The project will save money for Fort Carson, but it also improves the working environment for Soldiers and staff.

"The new high bay lighting in these facilities can easily be turned off and turned back on with no wait time as opposed to metal halides that must warm up so are generally left on all day," said Clark. "They are also quieter because of the use of electronic ballasts so there is an absence of the 'hum' and are generally brighter, which makes job performance easier."

Fort Carson Support Services, who manages maintenance of facilities on post, set about implementing easy lighting fixes within Soldier barracks as part of their Energy Conservation Initiatives program.

"Lighting is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to save energy," said Todd Gamboa, FCSS energy conservation specialist. Approximately 25 percent of energy use in buildings goes to lighting.

From May-September, FCSS analyzed 34 buildings on Fort Carson's "Banana Belt." During his walkthrough of the buildings, Gamboa discovered the older buildings were overlit and interior and exterior lights were left on 24 hours a day. Based on what the lighting analysis encountered, FCSS went to work on reducing lighting energy demand through a multi-phased approach.

The first step was to remove unneeded bulbs in fixtures with multiple bulbs in areas illuminated beyond what was needed.

Switches for exterior lighting were replaced with photo cell controls to eliminate lights being left on during the day.

"We thought we would put the sun in control of the lights instead of people," said Gamboa." The number of exterior fixtures was also decreased.

The next area tackled was the entry corridors, which can number upward of 24 in the barracks buildings.

"Entry corridors had three times the lighting needed for the space," said Gamboa. Fixtures were reduced from two bulbs down to one.

Gamboa also found that 75 percent of corridor lights were being left on day and night, which prompted FCSS to add occupancy sensors. Now lights only come on when someone is in the corridors.

Fluorescent bulbs were also reduced in Soldier living quarters and day rooms and occupancy sensors were added. Fixtures where lights were intentionally removed were tagged to inform the residents of the change.

FCSS will measure the energy saving generated from their lighting initiative in the 33 buildings modified for a year and compare the utility consumption in one building they left unchanged as a comparison.

Lighting rates for the buildings are approximately $63,000 per year and Gamboa estimates the cost to drop to under $12,000 when the analysis is complete -- an 82 percent decrease. Over a five-year period, the installation could see a half million dollars in savings.

FCSS wrapped up lighting work in buildings 1000 and 1005 in mid-October. Next on their lighting hit list are five 1st Brigade Combat Team "Dogbone" barracks and 14 "Rolling Pin" barracks on the north end of the installation.