Energy efficiency aboard MCAS Beaufort

25 Oct 2012 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort has been putting a lot of effort into being Marine Corps green – that is, meeting and exceeding goals for energy efficiency.

The Air Station has met goals for: lowering greenhouse gases, improving energy efficiency, using more renewable energy, using less fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and gasoline and conserving water.

“We’ve met our goal but we’re still doing projects to reduce further,” said Neil Tisdale, Air Station utilities director and energy manager.

The federal government set a level of energy for each base to meet and a percentage below that baseline to set as a goal.

The Air Station has met and exceeded the federal goal of using 30 percent less energy than the baseline.

“The way we got to where we are right now is through a lot of energy savings performance contract work,” said Tisdale.

Several projects that have helped reduce energy include changing the lamps on base to reduce electricity use, as well as putting aerators in shower heads, and changing flush valves to significantly drop use in water, said Tisdale.

“We also had a metering project. We’re metering pretty much all of the major buildings on the base for electricity.”

Having meters on buildings helps to know where the most power is going, so that specific areas can be better targeted with projects.

“When we get our hands on that [meter project] we can start managing the electric use on a building basis and start seeing if we have electrical spikes where we think there might be a problem, and we can go take a look at that building and see why it’s going from its baseline.”

With 25 percent of the base energy usage consisting of the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters alone, conservation efforts are now targeting the single Marines and sailors.

“We predicted about a 5 percent drop in energy use if we could get the occupants in the barracks to actually schedule their own air conditioning use,” said Tisdale. “That was the only thing that we could do with zero cost that would significantly reduce energy use in the barracks.”

Instead of having to schedule each individual room in the barracks, Marines control their own air conditioning. Marines push a button for four hours of air conditioning, which can be pushed multiple times for up to 16 hours of air conditioning. This keeps rooms from being air-conditioned while they are empty.

Tisdale also mentioned an effort to reduce energy consumption by changing out government vehicles with hybrid vehicles, to include the Marine Corps’ first hybrid bucket truck.

“It can just run off the batteries inside the hangars, so you won’t be breathing exhaust in there, but it’s also more energy efficient,” said Tisdale. “We’ve got some electric vehicles as well, and we’re 54 percent below our base¬line with [the fossil fuel reduction goal].”

Although the Air Station is excelling with energy conservation, Tisdale says we are staying ahead of the curve with projects to continue to reduce energy consumption.

Multiple projects are currently waiting for approval to continue improving resource efficiency aboard the Air Station.

“[Going green is] saving the Marine Corps utility dollars, which is really operational dollars,” said Tisdale. “The dollars that you’re using to pay for [the lights in the barracks] are the same dollars you’re using to pay for bullets or to fly jets.

“Every little bit helps.”