Fort McCoy News November 22, 2013

McCoy projects, energy guidelines reduce energy use

The winter heating season is a good time for everyone in the Fort McCoy and Army community to put energy awareness to use to reduce current and future energy use, said Michael J. Kelley, chief of the Fort McCoy Energy Utilities Branch for the Directorate of Public Works.

Changes in the modern conflict demand that the Army continues to evolve as an institution, according to a proclamation issued and signed by the Army leadership: Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh; Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. As part of that evolution, the Army must learn to use energy to its maximum effect, making "energy-informed operations" an integral part of its doctrine, culture and management practices.

Photo for energy article
A view of the SolarWall transpired solar heating panel collectors on the Automotive Skills Center, building 1763. Photo by Rob Schuette

The amount of energy needed to power a Soldier's equipment in the field impacts reach, mobility, agility, interoperability and sustainability. The installations on which Soldiers and their Families live and train are almost completely dependent on commercial power grids that can be disrupted due to weather, nature and acts of terrorism. Everyone is accountable and responsible to focus on making energy performance, energy management systems, energy discipline and energy conservation a daily priority. By doing this, all contribute directly to overall mission success.

Through industry partnerships, the Army is leveraging and expanding its investments and building renewable energy resources.

The Army is reducing energy demand, increasing efficiency, reducing costs and improving its operational capabilities. Using industry expertise and working with other services and federal agencies enables the Army to focus on its core competencies. By taking action, becoming champions of change, promoting energy awareness and making energy operations a key consideration in everything it does, the Army possesses the power to succeed.

Kelley said Fort McCoy coordinated a number of energy-conservation projects at the installation through fiscal year (FY) 2013 to support this goal. Energy usage is to be reduced by 3 percent per year to total a 30 percent reduction by 2015 compared to a 2003 baseline. At the moment Fort McCoy has reduced its usage by about 39 percent as compared to 2003. Water consumption is to be reduced by 2 percent per year to total 26 percent by 2020 relative to a 2007 baseline. Water usage is about 49 percent lower now, thanks in part to replacement of World War II-era water mains and the installation of low-flow water fixtures.

Efforts will continue to reduce energy and water usage as projects are identified and funding is available or approved, Kelley said.

Projects completed during FY 2013 included replacing inefficient lighting with more-efficient, energy-conservation lighting, and removing lighting from over-lit areas altogether. Indoor and outdoor lighting projects were completed.

Indoor projects included buildings 50, 60, 209, 1122 (Rumpel Fitness Center swimming pool), 1538 (Exchange), 2171, 1680, 2108, 1028, 1763 (Automotive Skills Center) and 10005. Street lighting was or will be replaced at South 8th Avenue and the Military Family Housing area and at parking areas for buildings 35 (Visitor Control Center), 50, 51, 2187, 1370 (Regional Training Site-Maintenance), 1537 (Commissary), 1538 and 1571 (McCoy's).

A portion of the savings will come from reduced manpower costs. Kelley said some of the lighting is expected to last up to 30 years before needing replacement, instead of the two or three times per year replacement currently required at some locations.

"Smart" electric, gas, and water meters were installed in 18 buildings during FY 2013, Kelley said. Once integrated with the proposed energy management control system the energy usage can be monitored and controlled at a central location.

Installing variable frequency drives on a number of furnace fan motors at building 200, the Installation Materiel Maintenance Activity, will result in energy savings because the speed of the motor automatically will adjust based on the current energy load versus the standard practice of running the motors at constant full speed regardless of the load.

Equipment upgrades at the building 200 paint booth also will result in more-efficient painting operations and allow for the permanent shut down of the building 204 paint booth, one of the highest-energy users on post.

Approximately 3,600 square feet of SolarWall transpired solar heating panel collectors were installed on the south sides of buildings 761, 1762, and 1763. The dark-colored wall acts as a large solar collector that converts solar radiation to heat.

By preheating outdoor air with solar energy, the technology removes a substantial load from a building's conventional heating system, saving energy and money.

Kelley said people can see many of the changes when they are traveling around the installation. What generally goes unnoticed, however, is that the installation's biggest energy savings occur when the installation can deactivate entire buildings, such as those dedicated for training use.

A lower troop density training population during the winter provides Fort McCoy with the opportunity to shut down entire blocks of buildings and record little or no energy use in those areas, he said.

Projects being considered for FY 2014 include boiler/furnace improvements and lighting upgrades at various facilities throughout the installation, extension of the natural gas line to the Family Housing and Sparta/Fort McCoy Airport areas and conversion from liquid propane gas, the installation of an energy management control system in about 30 buildings, and the feasibility of solar hot water, photovoltaic arrays, and heating and power generation by burning biomass (e.g. wood chips, cow manure, food waste).

The Huntsville (Ala.) Corps of Engineers sought proposals to design, construct and operate energy-saving projects, Kelley said.
Private companies install the lighting or other energy-conservation projects at no cost to the government and Fort McCoy, with their payback coming from the projects' projected savings.

(See related story.)

(Information in this story provided by the Department of the Army and the Fort McCoy Energy Utilities Branch of the Directorate of Public Works.)