'Fall' into energy awareness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michelle Vickers
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The United States Air Force is a leader in technological innovation, air power and space superiority among other distinctions, but it also leads the way in energy use.

"The Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. federal government, as our mission and global operations require a tremendous amount of energy," according to the Air Force's Energy Plan drafted in 2010 by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics' office. "In Fiscal Year 2008, the Air Force spent approximately $9 billion to fuel aircraft and ground vehicles and provide utility services (primarily electricity and natural gas) to installations."

Besides budgetary concerns, energy use negatively impacts the environment. Nonrenewable energy sources like fossil fuels generate pollutants like sulfur oxide that reduce air quality and create acid rain. Additionally, nonrenewable energy sources endanger national security as the resources are in limited supply and may be controlled by unfriendly nations.

"Energy conservation is a vital element of our national strategy to reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy resources," said Col. Jim Slife, commander of 1st Special Operations Wing, in an energy policy letter. "We all have a role in conserving energy, and here is how you can help. Act on the small energy saving opportunities that we each can influence. Collectively, these small savings will add up to a large improvement in our energy conservation goals."

As a step towards raising awareness of responsible energy use, the Energy Management Steering Group has begun conducting energy audits of base facilities. At the direction of Slife, Col. Robert Miglionico, then-vice commander of 1st SOW, led the first energy inspection on all three levels of wing headquarters.

"It is more of a cultural assessment," said Christopher Hood, energy manager for 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron. "The intent of the assessment is to look at how people are using the more than four million square feet of buildings on Hurlburt. The assessment is a facility walk-around to look for user actions that conserve energy and comply with the 1st SOW energy policy."

The assessment team analyzed aspects of office equipment. The focus is on use, purposes, capacity, number of users, and if it is Energy Star-rated. Another aim of the inspection was to check office temperatures to begin to track thermostat settings and building temperatures.

There are many ways that office workers can save energy that only require a few steps. Personal appliances like coffee makers should only be maintained in common break areas. Also, computer monitors, copiers and scanners can be set to sleep mode to conserve energy.

"If it is not in use, turn it off," Hood said. "Look for ways to consolidate refrigerators. [Take care of] housekeeping and get rid of equipment that is not in use."

Other shops that operate in a non-office setting can also work towards energy conservation goals with a few tips.

"Use ambient lighting when possible," Hood said. "Conserve heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning by keeping windows and doors closed in conditioned space. Carpool when possible"

The Energy Management Steering Group is evaluating the results of the assessments and how they can be used to make base-wide energy use improvements. Energy conservation is an effort that all base personnel must work to improve, said wing leadership.

"Everyone working on Hurlburt Field must embrace a cultural change where energy resources are deliberately managed to enable our varied missions." Slife said in the energy policy letter. "Your involvement and leadership are crucial for success. We must hold each other accountable for making energy a consideration in everything we do."