An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Officials call energy efficiency 'huge priority' for Air Force

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, the Air Force has made conserving resources a priority, a top official said Oct. 21.

"We have to continue with our strategy of reducing demand and increasing [energy] supply and changing the culture within the Air Force," said Kevin Billings, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.

Mr. Billings said finding cheaper, more efficient energy remains a top priority, because the Air Force uses so much energy.

Air Force officials are spending more time looking for best practices and collaborating with the other services in terms of how to move forward, Mr. Billings said. In addition to changing facilities management activities and aviation operations, he added, Air Force officials now want to address the general outlook Airmen have toward conserving energy.

"Technology can provide us better aviation operation procedures and, certainly, more alternative energy and renewable energy resources," Mike Aimone, assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics and installations, said. "But the culture can significantly reduce the demand for electricity if we, in fact, build this culture where airmen make energy a consideration."

At Vandenberg, several projects are on-going to help reduce energy use. The base swimming pool is in the process of having a solar-thermal heating system installed. This will drastically reduce the cost of heating the water. Starting this month, older lighting systems in over 100 facilities on base will be upgraded to more modern systems, improving the quality of the light while reducing energy.

"All Federal Agencies are directed to save energy by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act, as well as Presidential directives," said Brad King, Vandenberg's energy manager. "Above these regulatory requirements, Vandenberg aims to save energy because it is the right way to do business (saving already tight operational funds), and because we have lots of opportunities on the base to reduce our consumption."

Officials also have begun a significant effort to monitor how much petroleum is being used on Air Force bases, Aimone said, initiating an audit to find out the best methods of satisfying energy needs besides putting convoys of petroleum products.

Another project is the ongoing application of insulating foam to worn-out tents in Iraq and Afghanistan. At one location, Mr. Aimone said, eight air conditioning units were needed to cool the tents before the foam was applied. Now, only three air conditioning units are needed, he said.

Looking forward, Mr. Billings said Air Force officials plan to research more opportunities to use wind and solar energy and to test different fuels for vehicles. However, he said, some of the more efficient fuels are more expensive.

"We're not going to subsidize it in terms of paying a premium for the fuel, because we've got a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to fly our missions as cost-effectively as possible," Mr. Billings explained.

While Air Force officials will continue to search for more efficient energy, Mr. Billings said, it will not interfere with the overall Air Force mission.

"The No. 1 thing is providing our mission and making sure that we fulfill our mission ... while developing energy resources, whether they be wind, geothermal, solar or mineral resources under our land," he said.