Energy conservation saves money, ensures mission success at JBPHH

(Via Ho’okele News)

Binder1_Page_01_Image_0002Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez

15th Wing Public Affairs

As October comes to an end, so does Energy Action Month, but efforts to conserve energy and implement energy efficient initiatives is a year-round mission at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Here the energy program is executed by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). Under the NAVFAC umbrella, JBPHH has a team of 11 energy engineers that provide support for the Navy Region Hawaii Energy Program. Their roles include energy and water conservation project development and management, energy awareness and training, and energy data management.

“Our role is to try and reduce energy and water consumption here at [JBPHH],” said Kathleen Ramirez, a JBPHH energy manager. “We do this by performing facility audits, upgrading facilities to use less energy, and developing projects to replace old equipment with newer, energy-efficient equipment.”

The Navy Region Hawaii Energy Program is made up of three mission pillars: energy conservation, energy awareness and energy security.

“Energy conservation includes making physical upgrades to make our buildings more energy efficient,” Ramirez explained.

“Our goal with energy awareness is to make our people more energy efficient in their everyday lives, and energy security is making sure we have the energy we need when we need it,” she said.

The program is driven by public laws and presidential executive orders requiring federal agencies to reduce consumption of energy, fossil fuels and water.

In a recent commentary regarding Energy Action Month, Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said, “Hawaii is a perfect location to consider energy and the environment. Not only are we stationed in the most beautiful place in the world, but also, because of geography, we are in one of the most energy dependent places on Earth. Therefore, we want more resilience and independence while preserving the environment.”

The program’s investment of $17 million on energy conservation projects in 2014 highlight Williams’ emphasis on the importance of energy conservation in Hawaii. Some of those projects include upgrades to base facility lighting systems, replacing or repairing air conditioning systems, and construction of a new low-pressure air compressor plant in the shipyard (compressed air is a high energy consuming utility commodity supplied by NAVFAC).

“These projects are estimated to save the region more than $3 million in energy costs every year,” Ramirez said.

The energy awareness piece of the program is intended to educate the public on energy issues and behavioral changes they can make to conserve energy. Forest City and Hickam Community housing support these efforts in their programs geared toward military families.

Additionally, the building energy monitor program ensures every base facility has a designated building energy monitor to ensure their building operates with the least energy consumption possible.

“We can make a building as energy efficient as we want, but if people continue to leave lights and equipment on, or use energy without considering conservation, we miss out on a huge opportunity,” Ramirez said.

“Our building energy monitors are key in this effort. This year they’ve helped us deploy hundreds of appliance timers and smart power strips across the base. These small efforts in each building add up to real savings across the entire base,” she said.

The last pillar, energy security, refers to the program’s efforts to modernize the electrical distribution grid to be more flexible and resilient.

“These improvements will allow us to integrate renewable energy sources and ensure we supply mission critical energy requirements at all times,” Ramirez said.

An example of an energy security project is a recent contract to install 15.5 megawatts of solar photovoltaics on JBPHH. This project alone will provide about 6.5 percent of the installation’s energy. Ramirez said that although renewable energy is huge in resource conservation, it is more important for the general public to do their part to reduce energy use at home and work.

“We always want to concentrate on conservation first because it’s relatively cheap,” she said. “Then we put in place our renewable energy sources. We want to conserve and use the least amount of energy first, then rely on the renewables to accomplish our goal.”

The NAVFAC Energy team has provided several facts and tips people can use to ensure they are doing their part to conserve energy:

* The largest energy consumers in a home or office are air conditioners, water heaters, lights, major appliances and plug loads.

* To reduce air conditioning loads, open a window, turn on a fan, and leave the air conditioning off.

* To reduce water heating loads, go solar. Or take shorter showers and make sure to wash full loads of clothes and dishes. Use a seven-day timer to turn the water heater off automatically during the times you are usually not home.

* Replace the bulbs you use the most often to light-emitting diode (LED) lights. This can reduce your lighting demand by 80 percent or more.

* Make sure the rubber seal on your refrigerator isn’t leaking cold air. Hang dry clothes instead of using a dryer. Unplug items such as coffee pots, microwave ovens, toasters, etc., when not in use.

* Use programmable smart power strips or timers to turn off electronics during the times you are usually not at work or home (even if they are turned off, electronics still use a trickle of electricity to stay in “ready” mode).

For more energy-saving facts and tips, visit

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