07/29/08 — Seymour Johnson AFB takes aim at energy efficency

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Seymour Johnson AFB takes aim at energy efficency

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 29, 2008 1:42 PM

From an increased use of biodiesel fuel to the installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base personnel are examining ways to cut back on fossil fuel consumption -- and executing them.

In fact, the notion of going green was embraced by officials from both the 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing long before the Air Force mandate requiring a 3-percent reduction in consumption at bases throughout the command.

So it comes as no surprise to 4th Civil Engineer Brian Joyner that Seymour Johnson has dramatically reduced its total energy consumption.

"I would say we are definitely ahead of the curve," he said.

In a release dated Jan. 24, 2007, President George W. Bush declared Executive Order 13423, a doctrine that called for all federal agencies to improve energy efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the order, a 3-percent annual reduction in energy consumption -- or 30 percent by the end of 2015 -- was expected, relative to the baseline of each agency's 2003 energy use.

But earlier this month, Joyner reported that Seymour Johnson had already surpassed the mark -- seven years early.

"We're looking at a 34-percent total energy reduction," he said. "That's huge."

Before 2003, the facilities on Seymour Johnson were heated via centrally located steam plants, but the maze of underground pipes responsible for delivering the steam was aging, Joyner said.

"You are talking about 50-year-old lines underground, so we were having a lot of energy loss in steam lines across the base," he said. "It was pretty inefficient."

So when the steam plants were replaced with small natural gas boilers in 2003, Seymour almost immediately began seeing savings that are still being realized today.

And then, members of the Operations Flight had an idea of their own.

If the HVAC systems for many of the buildings on Seymour Johnson could be controlled from a central location, more wasteful consumption might also be eliminated.

Earlier this month, Joyner showed off the result of that idea.

The Energy Management Control System allows personnel to monitor and regulate the HVAC systems in 100-plus buildings on base, Joyner said.

"We are able to set temperature controls in those buildings, so, for example, at night, when they are vacant, we allow higher temperature settings," he said. "We don't have to worry about comfort if the building's vacant, so we eliminate some of that wasteful spending. And that's a huge player in what we're trying to do."

But major projects are only part of the puzzle.

Sometimes it is the small things that, when added up, make the biggest difference like switching to use of biodiesel in all non-tactical vehicles or making sure that old appliances on base are energy-efficient ones, Joyner said.

"With any project, you might see a 2- to 5-percent reduction," he said. "And some of them can be done so quick and easy."

But the success of any plan depends on more than plans and technology, he added.

So even as Seymour Johnson continues to raise the bar, officials are urging those within its gates to change their behavior.

"You can throw as much technology as you want at it, but if you're not addressing the behavior, you are still in trouble," Joyner said. "If I walk out of the house and leave the lights on, even if I am using (compact fluorescent lamps), it's still wasting."