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Saving energy: IMCOM conservation study aimed at reducing costs, saving resources

Feb 16, 2010

By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)

WIESBADEN, Germany -- Millions of dollars are seeping out of doors and windows or being vaporized by the lighting systems of homes and work centers in the Wiesbaden and Baumholder communities.

A recent energy awareness and conservation assessment conducted in U.S. Army Garrisons Wiesbaden and Baumholder revealed areas where millions of dollars could be saved on the Defense Department's energy bill.

"Some of it's just a matter of turning the switch off," said Mark Holt, USAG Wiesbaden's director of public works, explaining that 60 percent of the garrisons' energy bill pays for heating and hot water. The Baumholder and Wiesbaden communities are funded $53.7 million for fiscal year 2010.

"You know it's the simplest things ... closing doors and windows and turning off lights," said Bob Starling, Sain Engineering Associates director of Army programs, while performing walk-through assessments of daily energy consumption habits at Wiesbaden Army Airfield Building.

Because the goal to reduce consumption in federal work centers is mandated by an executive order, Installation Management Command officials contracted energy specialists in an effort to aid garrisons in lowering energy use by at least 3 percent every year.

"Energy assessments are just one tool IMCOM can use with the garrisons to find low- and no-cost ideas that can be implemented right away," said Ralph Totorica of the IMCOM Public Works Division, adding that Wiesbaden and Baumholder are the first of 10 installations that will be assessed by the team.

Energy specialists Lyman Parkhurst and Starling walked through garrison facilities and housing quarters to assess the current usage behavior in order to identify and advise the commander on ways to lower the annual utility bill.

"We waste a lot of money on energy. ... We've got to change our habits. We're looking for ways to cut back. We've got to start practicing it in our workplaces and our homes," said Col. Jeffrey Dill, USAG Wiesbaden commander, adding that money saved on energy can be used to bolster other community and family programs.

The Sain Engineering Associates representatives visited garrison facilities that included the commissary, fire station, Community Activity Center, child development centers, administrative buildings, library, aircraft hangars, dining facility, fitness center, barracks and family housing quarters.

Several items were identified as good practices for managing consumption such as control systems added to new and retrofitted buildings; a central heating plant located on all but one post in the Wiesbaden garrison's area of responsibility; adherence to temperature guidelines; and new retrofitted lighting with motion or combination lumen-motion sensors and T5 lighting.

Also, water conservation projects are widely employed, and consumption is below the amount of the set goal.

Even though good practices were noted, there were findings in areas that the garrison can yet stand to improve.

Problem areas included unnecessary lighting, ineffective and inefficient lighting designs, poorly maintained lighting fixtures, poor placement of lighting controls, temperature controls settings set too high on heaters and too low on air conditioners, damaged or lack of insulation and weather stripping, and many exhaust fans obstructed with dirt and debris.

"You can help stop the 'five and open' - the case where the radiator is set to five and the window is open wide," said Parkhurst who added that he understands people open their windows to prevent build up of mold and mildew, but they should not leave the windows open all day and night in this case. "If we can manage it, we can reduce the use."

Community members can support the energy conservation initiative by submitting service orders for facility maintenance and repair to the Directorate of Public Works Customer Service Center. In Wiesbaden submit service orders at www.wiesbaden.army.mil or call mil 337-9999, civ (0611) 705-9999. In Baumholder call mil 485-6133/6138/6182 or civ (06783) 6-6133/6138/6182.

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