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Turn energy awareness into action

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Air Force joins the nation once again to observe Energy Awareness Month during October. This year's theme, "Power the Force, Fuel the Fight," encourages members to do more than just be aware, but also to take action.

"Our country is in a new energy paradigm, and we can no longer use energy at will without regard to the consequences," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers. "We must make a commitment, plain and simple, to re-think the way we use - and view - energy."

Vandenberg AFB is making excellent progress toward satisfying federal energy mandates.

"Some of the more prominent goals require us to reduce energy intensity 30 percent by 2015, reduce water intensity 26 percent by 2020, and increase renewable energy to 25 percent of all electricity use by 2025," said Brad King, 30th Space Wing Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager. "But as time goes by, the goals are getting tougher. We need everyone doing all they can do to continue our energy program successes."

Since 2003, VAFB has reduced energy use nearly 15 percent and water consumption 25 percent, and more than 14 percent of all electricity is obtained from renewable sources.

"The Air Force is actively seeking ways to reduce our energy demand, increase our renewable energy supply, and make ourselves leaner, cleaner, and smarter when it comes to energy use," said Byers.

The Energy Team uses facility energy audits, utility meters, energy re-commissioning, and a variety of other tools to pursue aggressive reduction targets. At Vandenberg AFB., audits led to lighting retrofits, new energy efficient motors, lighting controls and boiler projects that are expected to save millions over the lifetime of the system.

Newly installed meters allowed for better resource management and generated $2 million of new revenue through more accurate billing of non-Department of Defense tenants. And facility recommissioning, or building tune-up, in the 2012 program will produce enough energy savings to cut $400,000 from utility bills in 2013.

The Air Force leads the Department of Defense as the No. 1 producer and user of renewable energy.

"We are evaluating ways to expand our portfolio to include wind and wave energy projects as we work toward producing 25 percent renewable energy by 2025," said King.

Two new solar photovoltaic projects will come online this fall at Oak Mountain and Building 11146.

"Our success, our ability to truly change the Air Force culture and develop a new mindset when it comes to energy, depends on you," said Scott Bly, 30th CES resource efficiency manager. "Take a moment to turn off lights and appliances when not in use; make saving energy and water a habit every day; and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to do their part too."

During Energy Awareness Month, people are encouraged to take ACTION. A-C-T-I-O-N stands for: Appliance reduction; Computer log off; Temperature set points; Inform facility managers; Outdoor conservation; and No waste. These are easy steps that can yield positive results for the community and the Air Force.

· Appliance reduction - Employees should look around their workspaces. Are these refrigerators or coffee makers in the work area? How many personal appliances can be removed or consolidated in common areas like the break room? Reducing energy usage by reducing the number of appliances and machines used can yield significant energy savings.

· Computer log off - Since personnel at many installations are advised not to turn off computers, it's important to log-off. This ensures that computers will enter energy-saving sleep mode. The Air Force IT Power Management Team estimates this action alone can save more than $10 million a year.

· Temperature Control - Climate control set points can have a major impact on energy use. Air Force policy settings are 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. Heating and cooling systems are not perfect, so workspaces may not be at optimum comfort temperatures. Rather than increasing energy demand with space heaters or fans, employees should dress appropriately for the temperature in their facilities. If a building is too cool in the summer or too hot in the winter, the thermostat could be set incorrectly, which means the Air Force is wasting energy.

· Inform facility managers - Report incorrect temperature set points, leaky faucets, blocked air vents, cracked windows, and other problems to your facility manager or civil engineer customer service.

· Outdoor conservation - Broken sprinkler heads wasting water or area lights left on in parking lots during the day should be reported to local civil engineer customer service.

· No waste - Don't turn a blind eye to problems. If you see something that doesn't need to be on, turn it off. If there is a problem, report it.

People should review daily routines to conserve energy and water. Every dollar saved on energy is a dollar that can be spent on Airmen, their readiness, and the mission to Fly, Fight, Win!