Goodfellow stays green

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Energy efficient and environmentally sound practices continue to be a central concern for American leaders. Those concerns stem from growing energy costs, understanding our impact on the natural environment, and research on Global Climate Change. To address those issues, President George W. Bush released Executive Order 13423 Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.

The EO states that federal agencies will conduct their missions in a manner that is environmentally, economically and fiscally sound, integrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable. Taken from the macro level and applied to the micro level, Goodfellow Air Force Base employs numerous tactics around the base to ensure we fulfill our resource responsibilities.

The 17th Civil Engineer Squadron, who oversees Goodfellow's energy and environmental programs, is innately engaged in our resource management.

To monitor energy outputs, 17 CES uses the Energy Management Control System, which could be described as a sort of central nervous system for base energy and environmental information. The EMCS monitors interior temperatures on most buildings, outside temperatures, cooling tower operations, and water tower levels.

The 17 CES is also in the process of tying in the sprinkler systems, which would allow greater control over watering times and output.

The EMCS is also responsible for the "peak shavings" initiation. When the system observes outside temperatures at 95 degrees Farenheit, EMCS sends a message to the command post, which then sends out the peak shavings pigeon to base computers. The message, as you're probably aware, is a request to curb all unnecessary energy usage.

As the base is operating at high energy outputs, closing blinds and extinguishing unused energy sources, like lights in empty rooms, monitors on unused computers, speakers, fans, etc. helps reduce energy costs since it is more expensive during heavy demand periods. Summer energy bills can exceed $400,000 per month, so daily peak reductions can significantly contribute to base savings.

A similar practice is called the "No Heat, No Cool" period. This practice, however, is mandatory, as 17 CES simply cuts off the air conditioning or heating in the fall or spring respectively. When outside temperatures reach moderate levels there is no need for cooling and heating, ergo, 17 CES does the logical thing and cuts certain building's systems. Those buildings reduce energy costs by opening windows and using amiable outside air.

While not affected by the "no-heat, no-cool" period, some 17th Training Group buildings are monitored for maximum efficiency. Nine buildings are intelligently interlinked and controlled through a "virtual chiller" using the EMCS.

The interlinking of the cooling systems allows one building's chillers to cool other buildings at the same time. When need arises, other chillers come online to meet demand. The virtual chiller system creates the flexibility of using the minimal number of chillers to cool all the buildings.

As you can tell, the base is zeroed in on minimizing excess energy costs, but it doesn't stop there. Perhaps you've noticed that the cross-walk lights are solar powered. This reduces hardware, since electricity lines don't have to be run to them, and energy usage, since the power is provided by the sun.

Water conservation is also vital to base operations. As you may have noticed participating in base intramurals, or running the track, the football field is artificial turf - which saves 4.5 million gallons per year.

The base uses xeriscaping whenever possible as well. Xeriscaping - which utilizes dry-climate native plants used to West Texas- also reduces watering requirements for the base.

The 312th Training Squadron has become a master of fire and water. Their fire-fighter school recycles the water it uses during training, saving 3.1 million gallons per year.

Eliminating the use of JP8 fuel and solely using propane added another 1.2 million gallons per year because the recycled water contains less fuel residue and can be used longer. And since propane burns cleaner, carbon emissions were reduced by more than six tons each year.

These successes represent hard work by Team Goodfellow, yet there are many more successes of note.

Next week the Monitor will highlight Base Exchange, Commissary, and base volunteer's roles in Goodfellow's energy and environmental stewardship.