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NEWS | April 28, 2022

88th Readiness Division energy program contributes to unit readiness

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

It may not be evident, but the 88th Readiness Division’s energy program contributes to unit readiness. The Energy Office within the Engineer Department, Directorate of Public Works here does this through numerous projects. In Fiscal Year 2021, the 88th RD had 15 Energy and Water Conservation and Resilience projects at 15 locations throughout the 19-state region worth $3.6 million.

For FY22, the 88th RD has $3.5 million available for design and execution of Energy and Water Conservation and Resilience projects at six locations. The division has requested an additional $1.9 million to upgrade outdated Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – commonly referred to as HVAC – controls at 15 locations.

All those projects pay off in tangible ways. In FY21, the 88th RD spent $8.2 on facility energy. This was a 12 percent reduction in the $9.4 million that was spent in the baseline year of 2015. The savings can then be used for other Army Reserve readiness priorities.

Managing the projects and budgets and tracking savings is done y 88th RD General Engineer and Energy Manager Ralph Thorn, along with fellow Resource Efficiency Manager Rachael Kemper and Energy Manager Ray Wrobel.

Thorn explained that the division’s Energy and Water Program has five lines of effort. The first is to increase energy efficiency by institutionalizing energy and water conservation measures across all levels, including Soldiers, Civilians, facility tenants and contractors. The Army’s focus on climate change will drive an additional line of effort that will be added this year. Numerous tools help monitor and manage energy and water consumption.

The second is to eliminate or reduce excess energy and water usage by incorporating energy performance requirements into all projects. The third is the increased use of new technologies, renewable and alternative energy by prioritizing locations for renewable projects.

The fourth is assured access to energy and water supplies at critical facilities. The fifth is increased energy training and education to establish an energy-conscious culture. Each of these lines of effort have multiple subtasks.

These are ambitious goals.

Thorn gave examples of some of the subtasks supporting each line of effort. Equipment replacement, like boiler and chiller upgrades and replacement, pump upgrades, variable frequency drive installations, plumbing upgrades to low flow fixtures, lighting upgrades to LED fixtures, window low emissivity (low E) upgrades and light controls and sensor replacements are ways to reduce energy and water use. New technology includes quick-connect technology for resilience and renewables as part of a microgrid. Controls-related measures include installation of automated digital controls, temperature setbacks, occupant sensors and peak load shaving. Finally, user education and recommendations help build awareness.

“Twenty solar arrays, including one which provides hot water at Belton Missouri, have been installed at various locations to lower energy costs and promote a lower carbon footprint.,” Thorn said. “Photovoltaics providing outdoor parking lot lighting have been installed in nine places. All the potable water infrastructure at Fort Douglas, Utah, was replaced.”

The 88th RD realizes savings each fiscal year through its energy and water reduction efforts. “Dollar amounts can vary because energy prices fluctuate and tend to increase over time,” explained Thorn. “Energy usage per square foot is a better indication. In 2015, baseline year, the 88th used 65 million British Thermal Units, or BTUs, per square foot. By the end of FY21, we were using only 60 million BTUs per square foot. This is an 8 percent reduction in total energy intensity usage over that period.”

Water Use Intensity has dropped 74 percent since FY07, the baseline year.

The Energy Office can track energy and water consumption at facilities to determine which are doing well and which need attention. For example, an open valve in the water distribution system at Fort Sheridan, Ill., was identified through consumption tracking and fixed, saving a significant portion of 88th RD water costs.

Several LEED new construction and major renovation projects are in the works. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design which promotes sustainability-focused practices in the building industry. All military construction projects are considered for LEED certification as part of the project planning process. The LEED process is currently being utilized in the planning of the AMSA that will be constructed at Fort Sheridan, Ill.

The Joliet Army Reserve Center at Elwood, Ill., built in 2014, is LEED Silver. Points are awarded for dozens of aspects that, when totaled, award Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum ratings. The Joliet ARC features native vegetation, rainwater management, bicycle racks, a solar array, among other features.

Energy resilience is a prime objective. Resilience is the ability to prepare for and recover from energy disruptions that impact mission accomplishment, and ensure energy is available and reliable at critical facilities. The goal is to install necessary equipment and make upgrades to ensure 14-day resiliency. A black start exercise will be conducted in FY26 to evaluate how the 88th RD maintains operational capabilities during an extended utility outage. A building’s energy will be shut down and 24-hour backup power generation will be tested. This exercise will identify overall resilience deficiencies and can help prioritize future projects to address them.

Thorn explained that the Army Reserve is planning a pilot in late FY22, early FY23, to install Electric Vehicle Charges at multiple sites along the I-5 transportation corridor to test long distance travel feasibility. This currently includes the Marysville, Wash., Armed Forces Reserve Center. The initial pilot will be limited to government vehicles. The plan is to install five Type 2 chargers to use on 15 electric government vehicles at that location. This will help reduce the carbon footprint in support of the Army Climate Strategy.

Thorn pointed out that we can all help conserve energy through attention to detail and a mindset to protect Army Reserve resources and reduce waste. “If you walk into a classroom and it’s 55 degrees and 90 degrees outside and no one is in the room, common sense says the room doesn’t need to be at 55 degrees,” Thorn said. “If the toilet is running or dripping constantly, tell someone. If there is no one in a room, turn off the lights.

“Common sense is what we ask. Don’t use resources unnecessarily.”