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Top five things Airmen should know about energy

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- In a soon-to-be released video, an Air Force senior leader shared key elements of the service's efforts to change the culture of energy and give Airmen a more personal stake in energy conservation as it relates to national security.

In the video, entitled "The Five Things Every Airman Should Know About Energy," Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, deputy assistant of the Air Force for energy, suggested that Airmen have both a duty and an opportunity to make energy a consideration in their work and home environments.

The combination of individual efforts and the service's constant refinement of its technology have indicated that the Air Force is "clearly leading the way in energy conservation and efficiency," Geiss said.

"We're doing this in changing the structure of our aircraft, in changing the way we fly and in creating more efficient engines," Geiss said, adding that the Air Force has also significantly reduced its energy intensity on installations by upgrading lighting and improving insulation. "We're trying to get our Airmen to understand the importance of energy so that they can be a part of the solution as well."

 Energy is a part of everything we do

Geiss urged Airmen to think about energy at work and at home.

"Energy enables every mission across our global Air Force as we try to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace," he explained. "It powers our aircraft, it supports our installations, and no matter what your job is or where you are in the world, energy is enabling what you're doing."

 Airmen are critical to energy

Though technology, Geiss said, is not the only solution.

"It's important that we as Airmen understand how we use energy and how we can improve the use of that energy, whether you're in a maintenance facility or a test facility or somewhere else," he said. "We're also trying to provide Airmen with the right tools to better understand how to apply these measures, so we're working with the Air Education and Training Command to develop an energy module that's available online to give Airmen tips and tools for everyday use."

 Senior leaders care about energy

In this constrained budget era, the cost of energy has gotten the attention, not only of the military, but the administration as well. According to Geiss, the Air Force spends more than $9 billion each year on fuel and electricity.
"The President of the United States, in his recent State of the Union address, indicated the importance of looking at energy security and how it enables our country and the Department of Defense to do its job," Geiss said. "Later, the Secretary of the Air Force joined the president at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., (in February) to reinforce the importance of energy and explain how it enables the Air Force mission."

 A penny saved, a penny earned

Dr. Geiss also noted that the Air Force continues to be innovative in how it operates its aircraft, particularly with the mobility fleet.

"This is a good example of our attempts to be more efficient and enhance mission effectiveness," he said, adding that the cost to move a ton of cargo one mile has been reduced by about 21 percent in recent years.

"When you add that up across all of the sorties we fly each day around the globe, this amounts to millions of dollars in savings," Geiss explained. "Every dollar that we can save on energy is a dollar that we can refocus on other priorities across the Air Force."

 Energy through technology

Geiss described the role the future will play in energy.

"We're looking to technology to enable our future Air Force to be more effective and efficient in how we use energy," Geiss said. "Through improved aircraft structures and more efficient engines, through analyzing our expeditionary operations, routes, biomass fuels, and trimming fuel requirements," the Air Force can be a major player in reducing the nation's energy footprint.

Geiss also lauded particular installations such as Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., primed to be the first base to convert to a 100 percent plug-in electric vehicle fleet in April. He noted the effective use of windmill technology at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., resulting in significant energy reduction base-wide.

"I believe these five things will help Airmen understand that we're trying to make energy a consideration in all that we do across the Air Force," Geiss said, adding that this can be achieved through "trying to reduce our demand for energy, expand and increase our supplies and looking at how we can change the culture and develop advanced technologies for our force."