Hurlburt civil engineers recognize Earth Day all year

  • Published
  • By Chris Hood
  • 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Base Energy Manager
Some people chose to use less electricity and water. Others replaced their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. And many pitched in by recycling their plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

While there are many ways people commemorated Earth Day April 22, reducing consumption and considering energy in everything we do are priorities that Hurlburt Field takes to heart every day.

More than four decades ago, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson helped establish Earth Day because he was troubled by what he described as "the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of our country."

Since then, environmental concerns have led to the establishment of many laws, executive orders and goals that require government employees, including Airmen, to be environmentally conscientious.

For example, by 2015, the Air Force is required to
· Reduce facility energy usage by 30 percent (2003 baseline.)
· Reduce water usage by 16 percent (2007 baseline.)
· Increase use of renewable energy to 10 percent of electricity consumed.

The Air Force has many initiatives underway to reduce energy consumption. At Hurlburt Field, our new energy policy focuses on activities that will conserve energy. Heating and especially cooling in Florida represent a major percentage of a facility's energy. Adjusting thermostats, doing proper maintenance on the equipment and ensuring proper air flow are three key measures that can result in energy savings through conservation. The Air Force is required by law to audit 25 percent of the highest energy use facilities each year.

In fiscal year 2010, the Air Force completed 41 facility energy audits covering 92 million square feet and identifying $250 million in investment-grade projects totaling more than $100,000 each. They include projects such as upgrades to lighting, heating and air conditioning and energy management control systems.

The foundation of the Air Force energy program is to promote cultural change. This includes awareness as well as action.

During the month of April, the Hurlburt Field Energy Manager met with a group of Girl Scouts in preparation for implementing "Project Change Out." This service project is designed to educate people about the energy savings of changing from incandescent lights bulbs to compact florescent bulbs.

In early April, Senior Airman Kristina Haslett, 1st Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron, and four of her scouts from Troop 559 gave away more than 500 13-watt CFL bulbs to replace 60-watt incandescent ones in the community at the Hurlburt Base Exchange. If all of these compact florescent bulbs were used to replace incandescent bulbs, the energy savings on base would be close to 33,000 Kilowatt hours or more than $3,000 annually based on four hours of operation per day.

In addition to the scouts service project, volunteers from the 1st Special Operations Wing and tenant organizations supported Earth Day at the Fort Walton Beach Landing April 15. Approximately 800 elementary school children from throughout the Panhandle attended the event. The exhibit included information on alternative energy sources, energy conservation and the importance of wetlands and its habitat. The interaction with the students also included hands-on demonstrations like thin-film solar cells, a solar concentrator that could boil water, a hand-crank generator to create electricity and wind generation.

Lastly, making energy a consideration in everything we do is the Air Force's energy vision. Just as the Air Force's 2011 Earth Day theme "Conserve Today Secure Tomorrow" conveys, small changes can have profound impact.

What changes will you start or continue to do?