Energy awareness important every month

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- October is Energy Awareness Month, a time to reflect on what happens each time we flip a light switch or turn on a faucet. This October, you may have had the opportunity to see innovative and energy-conscious products such as the University of Arizona's solar race car, an example of innovative technology, or children at the youth center learning how to cook hotdogs with solar power. Our commitments to conserve energy and water cannot fade away on Nov. 1 like Halloween ghosts. Energy conservation must be taken seriously throughout the year. Davis-Monthan can be proud of our energy conservation accomplishments made this year.

Many projects that focus on reduction of energy and water usage through upgrade of current infrastructure have been advanced last year. Here are a highlighted few:

· Five gas engine-driven air conditioners (GEDACs) are being tested on base that help offset peak electricity use during the cooling season. These air conditioners shave approximately 50 kW of energy use when electricity is most expensive to produce and purchase.
· The construction phase of a base wide, 45-boiler upgrade project has already begun that will save approximately $350,000 of natural gas each year!
· High-bay lighting projects are underway to save energy and improve lighting quality for Airmen in the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, 563rd Rescue Group, and the 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Early feedback suggests Airmen are pleased with the results.
· Retro-commissioning, or building tune-ups, are underway in many of our highest energy consuming buildings. Studies have already uncovered many low-cost remedies that improve occupancy comfort and save thousands of dollars in energy costs per year.

Conserving water and energy is the right thing to do but it is also mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. We are required to save approximately 3 percent more electricity and 2 percent more water every year than the year before. Our energy consumption must be reduced by the equivalent of 325 tons of coal and 6 million gallons of water every year. Here are some exciting projects on the horizon will help achieve and surpass these goals.

· One of the Department of Defense's largest solar power installations is set to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2011. This project will produce approximately 13 MW of power on D-M and supply approximately 75 percent of D-M's peak electrical demand.
· New central plants with ice storage are planned to let us use off-peak power and excess solar power to store thermal energy in the form of ice. The ice is used later to cool our buildings during peak times, again reducing peak energy demands and charges.
· At the Youth Center, a NASA funded solar air conditioning system that is able to cool using solar thermal power will be tested.
· LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, principles are used on every new building constructed on D-M. These principles help promote resource efficiency, healthy indoor environmental quality, the latest energy systems, use of recycled materials and innovative design principles.

As energy awareness month draws to a close, it is time to reflect not only on what we have accomplished in previous years to save energy and water at D-M, but to build new excitement for the other 11 months of the year. Some of the ways you can get more involved with these efforts are to:

· Remember to lower the thermostat to 69 degrees in the winter and raise it to 76 degrees in the summer. It is also Air Force policy.
· Turn off personal appliances such as coffee pots or radios and other nonessential equipment when not in use.
· If you spot a leaky faucet, noisy refrigerator, or leaky compressed air system report it. You will be surprised by how many inexpensive ways can save your resources.
· Get involved with your dorm energy council. They volunteer to help Airmen living in the dorms reduce their energy and water impacts.

The D-M Energy Team thanks each and every one of you for saving resources in your own way. Together we can achieve and surpass the mandatory goals that have been set forth by our leaders and do the right thing for the environment.