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NEWS | Nov. 19, 2013

New contracts, infrastructure save energy, money at Eustis

By Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Each year, approximately $108 billion is spent on energy nationally, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

During the current adverse economic times, members of the 733rd Civil Engineer Division at Fort Eustis are moving forward with plans to reduce costs and conserve energy.
According to Peter Phan, 733rd CED energy manager, the unit has initiated three energy-saving performance contracts, or ESPCs, as a way to improve energy management and save money installation-wide.

To fund the contracts, the 733rd CED implemented three Department of Defense-mandated delivery order phases, which provide no extra cost to the government.

Fort Eustis has reportedly saved approximately $5.8 million from the energy-saving measures so far, allowing the unit to contract more projects.

"The government will call in an ESPC contract [for a company], who will borrow money from a bank to install the energy-saving initiative," explained Phan. "We pay them monthly to install the initiatives out of savings from the utility bills, guaranteeing the costs will [decrease]. After the contract is done, if the energy bill costs more money, the company will have to make it up out of their pocket."

The first ESPC was funded by Delivery Order 1, which began in 2008 and consisted of replacing lighting fixtures, such as T-8 lights, to increase energy efficiency.

"The T-8 lights are a type of fluorescent light bulb that reduces about 50 percent of energy use," said David Malpass, 733rd CED assistant energy manager. "Before that, we used T-12 lights, which produce the same amount of light, but used more energy."

The second contract, also funded by DO-1, is the replacement of boilers and chilled-water systems, or chillers, which produce cold water that is circulated throughout facilities instead of using chemicals, and replacing direct digital controls, DDCs, which control the entire system from a computer.

Also within the second ESPC project, which was funded by DO-2 and began in 2009, is the installation of solar-tracking skylights and indoor swimming pool covers, among other projects.

The skylights are based off of the photovoltaic system, which uses the sun as a power source.

"[The system is] very unique because the solar skylight is on the roof itself," said Phan. "When solar light comes in it tracks the sun, so when the sun moves, the light in the building always stays in the same spot. Without that, you're going to have light [in one place] in the morning and light [in another] in the afternoon."

Along with the solar skylights, a building lighting system is being integrated to turn off or dim lights when there is enough sunlight in the room.

The pool covers keep heated water warm when it is not in use, requiring less energy to maintain the water temperature.

The second delivery order also funded the decentralization of the main boiler plant, which produces steam to heat several buildings throughout the installation, and a current project, which includes external sealing of buildings to reduce the amount of air transferred inside and outside the building.

According to Phan, because the buildings are far away from the main boiler, it is difficult and expensive to maintain.

"It costs a lot of money [to heat buildings] because the steam lines leak and constantly need repairing," said Phan. "The plan is to shut down the main boiler and place individual heating systems and smaller boilers into each building."

The third delivery order is in the process to fund more boiler and chiller replacements and the installation of solar skylights.

Phan said the initiatives bring Fort Eustis closer to the 733rd CED's goal to reduce energy usage by 30 percent and water usage by 16 percent by 2015.

Phan continued to say the 733rd CED's mission is to provide quality engineering, planning, operations, environmental and fire emergency services to Fort Eustis and the energy management team has planned ahead with current and future energy projects to make sure they are doing their part, while saving funds.

"The initial work is complete, as far as getting it to the point where we start saving energy with [the measures]," said Malpass. "In the next 16 years, the contractor will come out on a yearly basis and perform maintenance and verification. That's how they justify showing how much was saved, compared to if they didn't install the measures."