USAG­HI focuses on energy conservation

| October 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

U.S. Army Garrison­Hawaii has implemented a number of strategies to cut back on energy consumption at its installations over the last several years.

New projects and significant building renovations have been engineered to consume 30 percent less energy per square feet than the standard building.

Since 1999, buildings have been stocked with high-efficiency lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, as well as solar water heating systems. Most buildings are automated to manage and conserve the amount of energy being used.

In fact, USAG­HI has some of the most energy-efficient buildings in the Army, according to Keith Yamanaka, energy manager for the Engineering Branch of USAG­HI’s Directorate of Public Works.

Still, the cost of energy in Hawaii is among the highest in the nation, and Hawaii’s primary source of energy is imported oil. These facts mean that even though USAG­HI runs an energy-efficient outfit, it still costs more than twice as much to keep it running than it would to keep Fort Bragg in North Carolina running, and even more compared to other installations on the continental U.S., Yamanaka said.

In the 2014 fiscal year, USAG­HI spent approximately $90 million on gas and electricity for its facilities.

“The Department of Defense is HECO’s largest customer, and the Army is the second largest consumer of energy within the DOD,” Yamanaka said, adding that the Navy is the No. 1 consumer of energy within the DOD and on the island.

USAG-HI’s DPW is also planning to re-establish its Building Energy Monitoring program, or BEM, to encourage energy stewardship for all USAG-HI facilities, Yamanaka said, adding that the BEM manager position is not currently staffed but hiring actions are in progress.

Island Palm Communities, the property management company that oversees Army military housing on Oahu, has also taken measures to ensure and encourage energy conservation.

In 2011, IPC’s Simpson Wisser neighborhood at Fort Shafter was among a handful of communities nationwide to be designated a LEED­certified neighborhood in 2011. This certification recognized IPC’s use of sustainable, energy-conserving technology, such as high-efficiency windows and dual-flush toilets, as well as the overall design of the community.

IPC is a partnership between developer Land Lease and the U.S. Army. It is the DOD’s largest military family housing privatization project.

But even with all the strides in technological progress, reducing energy consumption boils down to awareness at the individual level.

“Turn off your computer when you’re not using it, turn off the lights and the air conditioning when you leave the house,” Yamanaka said. “The most cost effective conservation tool is the human finger, and the brain that tells it to turn things off. It is free and can be taken wherever that human goes and can reduce facility use by up to 10 percent.

“The money USAG­HI spends on energy or water waste is money that cannot go to doing repairs or improvements to support mission or quality of life,” he added.

Energy conservation is a global priority for the Army and mirrors growing concern over energy consumption and the environment in the general non­military population.

In 2009, President Obama mandated federal agencies to prepare annual strategic sustainability performance plans and to inventory and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2010, the Army launched its net zero program with pilots at Army installations in California, New York, Puerto Rico and the Marshall Islands, among other places. The goal of the net zero program is for participating installations to only consume as much energy as they create by 2020.

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