Cannon implements ‘green’ initiatives

By 2nd Lt. Raymond Gobberg: 27th SOW Public Affairs

To combat soaring energy costs and promote clean energy efforts, Cannon Air Force Base has implemented several energy saving initiatives to curb consumption by three percent and save approximately $129,000 annually.

“We spend approximately $12,000 per day in utility costs at Cannon, equating to an estimated $4.3 million for fiscal year 2008,” said Michael Poston, deputy base civil engineer for the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron.

The projects aim to reduce this cost to the taxpayers, continued Mr. Poston.

“Things like energy efficient lighting will immediately save money,” said Mr. Poston.

“Other things like solar panels will be expensive up front, but pay for themselves in the long run.”

Currently, Energy Management Control Systems are being installed in 74 buildings at Cannon. This gives Civil Engineers the ability to monitor and regulate energy usage in those buildings. The computerized unit can be controlled wirelessly and operated from a central location, which allows for a more efficient way to scrutinize base-wide energy consumption, continued Mr. Poston.

To further guide energy conservation at Cannon, Air Force Special Operation Command has developed a 39-item checklist of energy-saving ideas.

“Included on the list is everything from turning off lights, computer monitors and office equipment to efficiently maintaining vehicles,” said Steven Myers, resource efficiency manager for the 27th SOCES.

Following simple measures creates a significant amount of savings, continued Mr. Myers.

“A fluorescent light fixture operating 24 hours each day costs $11 per year in energy,” he said. “The simple act of turning off computer monitors at the end of the day can save $27 yearly per monitor.”

In addition to addressing day-to-day energy saving initiatives, the Air Force has anticipated how to solve long-term energy issues at Cannon with its increased square footage and mission requirements.

To keep energy consumption low, the Air Force is committed to constructing all new buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver-certification, said Mr. Poston.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, the LEED rating system is a third-party certification program and the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The program encourages and accelerates adoption of sustainable green building and development practices globally.

“By designing to this level we will be saving money,” said Mr. Poston

Achieving LEED certification can be quite expensive, but over the long term, the energy savings significantly outweigh upfront costs, according to Mr. Poston.

“There is a checklist from which you can pick certain options in your design; the features you select determine the timeframe of your return,” he said.

Constructing new buildings within the LEED guidelines is just one way the Air Force and Cannon plan to conserve energy.

“The Air Force is committed to saving energy. That is why we actively pursued the first-ever memorandum of understanding between a state and the Air Force,” said Mr. Poston.

The non-binding, memorandum of understanding, between the state of New Mexico and the Air Force, signed July 23, was a significant step in the joint pursuit of renewable energy projects.

Though the memorandum does not mandate reduction of energy consumption, it provides direction on how to reduce our reliance on fossil-fuel energy and shift the focus toward renewable energy, said Mr. Poston.

Mentioned in the document are two potential projects that have the city of Clovis and the Air Force working together for a clean energy future.

The first project is a non-binding agreement among New Mexico, the city of Clovis, the Air Force and the Southwest Biomass Cooperative to pursue creation of a power generation project capturing methane from dairy waste.

The second project is another non-binding agreement to pursue development of a wind energy project near Clovis.