By Stephen Baack
| U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville | Feb. 11, 2020
Homar Velazquez, resource efficiency manager with the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, explains the workings of potable water system in a clinic there. The water is collected on the roof of the clinic, drained into large tanks and then chlorinated. Puerto Rico has a high average yearly rainfall, and the clinic's potable water system can provide potable water to the clinic for 14 days independently if needed. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
The accomplishments of one resource efficiency manager with the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, is proving that leveraging Huntsville Center’s expertise is a force-multiplier in meeting the Army’s energy goals.
Homar Velazquez’s work throughout the last two years as Fort Buchanan’s resource efficiency manager led to the post’s selection as winner of the 2019 Northeast Regional EPA Green Challenge in Waste, Energy and Water, according to Teresa Whalen, Huntsville Center REM Program project manager.
In those last two years alone, the Army Reserve at Fort Buchanan recycled more than 5,200 tons of material out of landfills, decreased their water usage by more than 42 million, and decreased their energy usage by 26.54 percent.
“He is recognized as being critical in that effort, and for offering great support and service,” Whalen said.
Resource efficiency managers, or REMs, are contracted subject-matter experts Army-wide who enhance the effectiveness of installations’ energy programs by identifying ways to reduce energy and water costs.
According to the REM Program fact sheet, “REMs provide vital expertise to develop site energy plans encompassing projects that achieve sustainable, renewable, secure, resilient energy management.”
Whalen said Velazquez is also responsible for assisting the post’s ongoing Energy Savings Performance Contracting contract, which includes photovoltaic arrays, wind turbines, and a ground well-water operation that provides 50 to 60 percent estimated monthly savings.
She added that Velazquez is directly involved with water-distribution system modernization and an alternative water project that uses sustainable rainwater-harvesting systems. His work has helped Fort Buchanan achieve its part in the Army goal for installations to have 14 days of energy and water resilience.
And if all of these accomplishments are not enough, Whalen said Velazquez was also instrumental in getting utilities back up and running in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico in 2017.
The Huntsville Center REM Program team supports its REM counterparts throughout the Army by providing expertise and reach-back assistance, and hosting training multiple times a year. The REM Program team has also scheduled a workshop for March.
“We’re the support team, but the REMs are definitely the ‘boots on the ground,’” Whalen said. “They are there to see that the energy, security and efficiency needs are met, and they’re right there with the customer. Our aim is to work in a cooperative spirit so we can all achieve the Army’s energy goals.”