Vance plugs into more efficient energy

  • Published
  • By Dan Calvert
  • Computer Sciences Corporation mechanical engineer
Team Vance continues to find new methods for reducing energy consumption on and off base.

Vance has the lowest energy costs in the Air Education and Training Command, and since 2003, Vance has reduced the amount of energy used per square foot more than 27 percent. This is more than double the 12 percent reduction goal for 2009 set forth by President Obama.

Vance currently holds first place in the AETC Energy Incentive program. This program provides monetary rewards to the top three bases in energy reduction per square foot. If the standings still hold at the end of the competition in June, this would provide Vance with $1.5 million to be applied at wing leadership's discretion towards facility improvement projects.

But this didn't happen overnight; these accomplishments are the result of a focused attack on energy usage that spans several decades. Vance's continuing improvement requires coordination between several entities on base to plan, execute and evaluate energy reduction efforts.

An energy steering group meets quarterly to provide a forum for civil engineers to communicate objectives and performance data to wing leadership. The ESG uses this information to develop plans and procedures for meeting energy objectives and to evaluate the effectiveness of the energy policies in place.

An electrical or mechanical engineer is designated as the base energy manager. The responsibilities of the BEM include tracking progress of all conservation activities, periodically reporting to the ESG, overseeing the energy management and control system and working closely with the EMCS operators to ensure execution of base energy policies.

Where economically feasible, Vance employs direct digital control as part of the broader base-wide EMCS. DDC gives Vance the capability of real-time control over heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and other energy consuming processes. It also helps to quickly identify energy-wasting system malfunctions which require maintenance.

When the Air Force transitioned to computer based simulators, the thermal energy storage system was developed.

Water is chilled at night and distributed during the day to several surrounding buildings. Fan-coil units are then used to transfer heat from the building to the cold water.

Peak electrical demand is reduced because the energy required for cooling is deferred to nighttime. This results in lower peak demand fees on electricity bills.

Vance has also partnered with the local utility provider to fund a project to replace approximately 28,000 fluorescent light bulbs on base, with higher efficiency bulbs. The project cost is paid for by the electricity savings. This type of arrangement is known as a utility energy service contract.

Using alternative funding options like this can be beneficial when projects have good savings potential but aren't high enough priority to receive funding from the government.

In conjunction with the big savings achieved through the efforts discussed, Vance also pursues small savings. This is accomplished by upgrading the energy efficiency of existing buildings during renovations.

Whether it is infrared heating for our hangars, a new condensing boiler with up to 98 percent efficiency in the Radar Approach Control building, LED airfield lighting, or new energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning units for the dorms, no opportunity is missed to reduce energy consumption.

The last frontier, it seems, is on-site renewable energy generation.

Due to the low energy costs at Vance, it is difficult for on-site renewable energy projects to achieve a 10-year simple payback period required for funding. However, in an effort to be good stewards of the environment, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and prepare for rising fuel prices, Vance has made a commitment to geothermal energy.

The base's first ground source heat pump has been installed at Kegelman Auxiliary Airfield, and a study has been planned which will help determine the feasibility of further ground source heat pump applications at Vance.

Through these initiatives, Vance expects to exceed the president's goal of 30 percent energy reduction by 2015, as well as contribute towards the goal of three percent on-site renewable energy production across the Air Force.