148th Fighter Wing spreads energy conservation awareness
By Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington, 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 26, 2011
DULUTH, Minn. -- The 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) is on a continuous mission to reduce the amount of energy that the base consumes, and at the same time, keep the base populace informed on how each Wing member can help reduce costs.
"You can get so far on the big things, but it comes down to education of the base populace," said 148th Fighter Wing Base Facility Manager Chief Master Sgt. Mark S. Rukavina. "We're all paying the bill--the education piece is important too, for making sure that everybody can help us do their part."
"Awareness is the biggest individual thing that we'd like to emphasize and get across to the Wing," said 148th Fighter Wing Base Civil Engineer Maj. Ryan R. Kaspari. "We rely heavily on every individual throughout the Wing to help reduce and conserve as much as they can. Without the Wing doing what they can we're only going to get so far with energy conservation."
The CES staff recommends turning off or unplugging appliances and electronic devices when they are not in use. Despite being in a "sleep" mode, devices are still drawing more power than they would if they were turned off. To help with this, motion and daylight detectors have been installed in offices, and motion detectors have been installed in some of the exterior lights on base as well.
"We're always looking at new ideas, new initiatives, new technologies to implement that will help us to continue to reduce energy," said Kaspari. "I think we're one of the more forward thinking bases in the Air National Guard."
Exterior lighting is an unavoidable expense for the base, but one that the CES staff has tackled with great success.
"A product called induction lighting--basically a fluorescent light fixture--it's probably a quarter of the cost of LED but has the same life expectancy. It has a little bit different light pattern, but it's a good pattern, it works well, and the energy consumption or energy footprint is pretty much identical. We were able to, through grants and other things that we get from Minnesota Power, purchase all new induction light fixtures for all our street lights," said Kaspari.
Projects like the street lights equate to energy savings which are then awarded rebates by local utility company Minnesota Power.
"We partner with Minnesota Power and their rebate program for energy reduction. We are able to get rebates through them with different energy projects and remodeling of buildings. We use a local vendor and they issue the check to that local vendor and we buy the products that we want to reinvest in energy reduction. Through some projects that we just had, we had a rebate of approximately $14,000," said Rukavina.
"The rebate program is a great tool--every project we do that has electrical items installed in it, we can have them come up and they'll basically audit the project, and based on that they will figure out how many dollars per watt the base will save," said Kaspari. "The induction lights came out of that program--we were able to retrofit all of those street lights. "
"Over the years, we've worked with them up to approximately $60,000 in rebates throughout the program," said Rukavina.
Despite the challenge of powering a base the size of the 148th Fighter Wing, the Wing is on track to meet the energy conservations requirements put in place by the federal government.
"The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is a federal energy goal that requires a three percent per year reduction over a 10 year period, using 2003 as a baseline year. At the end of 2010 we were at 28.6 percent, so things are progressing pretty well," said Kaspari.
From solar tubes on rooftops harnessing heat to offset hot water costs, to future plans involving the utilization of rain water to flush toilets, the members of the Civil Engineering Squadron can only do so much without the support of their fellow Bulldogs.
"It's about getting people to change their mindset and start thinking of it as their home and their responsibility instead of just assuming somebody else is taking care of it. Be aware of your surroundings and your energy use," said Kaspari.
"Energy (conservation) has to be embraced by the whole Wing to make it work," said Rukavina.