Air Station strikes gold, wins energy conservation award

30 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Anthony Guas

With the continuing increase in the cost of living today, and the strain placed on natural resources, the Air Station has been doing its part to conserve energy, and was recently awarded for its efforts.Fightertown was one of 23 military installations and one of five Marine Corps bases that were awarded a Gold level of achievement by the Secretary of the Navy.The gold level of achievement indicates that a military installation has a very good-to-outstanding energy management program, has implemented significant energy projects during the reporting year and has demonstrated reductions in MBTUs, (a standard unit of measurement for natural gas and provides a convenient basis for comparing the energy content of various grades of natural gas and other fuels), in recent years. “We have to submit a report to Headquarters Marine Corps every year on energy usage and projects that we completed,” said Neil Tisdale, the Air Station maintenance utilities director. “They usually go up for recognition. This award basically says that you’re doing a good job with your energy conservation.”The gold star is one level above the blue star, which indicates that an installation has a well-rounded energy management program, while the platinum level indicates that a military installation has an outstanding energy management program.Fightertown received this award for putting an Energy Savings Performance Contract in place, according to Tisdale. The Air Station partnered with the Trane Corporation in an $11.1 million ESPC contract to install geothermal technology.Under the contract, the Air Station installed a micro-turbine co-generation plant that produces 1.5 mega watts of electricity and makes about nine million BTUs per hour of heating water, according to Tisdale.“This is used to heat the barracks, medical, dental and the mess hall,” Tisdale said. “The contract also allowed us to install a chilled water plant that provides cooling water for air conditioning at the barracks complex and the mess hall.”The new chilled water plant makes chilled water at a significant lower amount of energy, according to Tisdale. In addition to the new heating and cooling systems, geo-thermal heat pumps were installed in 38 buildings aboard the Air Station.“These heat pumps are better than conventional air conditioning units because they exchange their energy with the ground-transferring heat to the 65 degree earth is much easier than transferring it to the 95 degree outside air,” Tisdale said. “ We have also replaced the lighting in all the hangars with energy-efficient high intensity fluorescent lighting.”The ESPC is integrated with the Air Stations Energy Monitoring and Control System, according to Tisdale “We are able to monitor everything from the energy management system,” Tisdale said. “Like the air conditioning and some lighting to make sure that everything is working properly.”The system has a load shed scheme that allows it to contact polls to analyze how much energy is being used, according to Bill Rogers, an engineering technician for the Air Station.“If the energy starts to exceed a certain limit, (the load shed scheme) raises the set point on the thermostat to maintain a constant energy usage during peak periods,” Rogers said. “It also makes maintenance a lot easier.”Before this system was in place, the Air Station had to maintain people on staff to monitor operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Rogers.“This system cut down on that,” Rogers said. “Now it all can be monitored from a computer in the office or at home. Getting the micro-turbine plant also cut six man years of labor.”The combination of the ESPC and the system is saving the Air Station more than 100,140 MBTUs and $1,170,000 annually, according to Tisdale.“The Air Station has been reducing its energy usage by 12 percent each year over the last few years,” Tisdale said. “This is a good thing because we are spending less money, while gas and other electrical rates are rising.”This award is not the first recognition the Air Station has received. The Air Station has been saving energy and receiving awards for the past couple of years, according to Tisdale. Due to the Air Station’s exceptional energy program, the Fightertown has won three distinct awards: The Secretary of the Navy Energy award, and the Department Of Energy’s Facilities Energy Management Program and Show Case designation awards, according to Tisdale“When we submitted for the award, most of the energy saving projects were still in construction,” Tisdale said. “If possible we can get the big award next year.”Tisdale believes that the contract and all the money spent on energy saving efforts are well spent.“We appreciate any recognition we can get,” Tisdale said. “I feel it makes the Air Station look good. Anytime we can make the Air Station look good that’s great.”