[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                    November 25, 2005

Post meets energy-use reduction goals 

By Rob Schuette, Triad Staff     

      Fort McCoy is meeting all Army energy-use reduction goals, and support by the installation's work force can help the installation maintain its compliance, said Matt Narus. Narus is an environmental protection specialist for VT Griffin, the contractor for the Fort McCoy Directorate of Support Services.

Photo: An employee from Alliance Steel Construction Corporation of Superior, Wis., cuts sheetrock, which is used to cover insulation in a renovated Fort McCoy facility. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
An employee from Alliance Steel Construction Corporation of Superior , Wis. , cuts sheetrock, which is used to cover insulation in a renovated Fort McCoy facility. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      The installation has won many energy awards over the years. Narus said the initial energy consumption goal was to meet a 30 percent energy-use reduction using fiscal year (FY) 1985 energy consumption as a baseline.

      "We did that a long time ago," Narus said. "Our 1985 figures included burning coal for heating and not having remodeled facilities. Our energy use was very inefficient."

      Fort McCoy has remodeled many facilities, replacing windows, adding insulation, installing energy-efficient lighting, etc., he said. The installation also replaced coal heating with natural gas and liquid propane. New facilities that bring in the most-up-to-date energy-usage features also will help keep the installation's energy use on track, he said.

Good energy habits can 
pay off at home, too

      The same general tips that apply to saving energy in the workplace, such as shutting off items when they're not in use and ensuring heating and cooling equipment is in serviceable condition and replaced with modern equipment as it wears out, are good strategies to follow at home, said Matt Narus.

      Narus is an environmental protection specialist for VT Griffin, which is the contractor for Fort McCoy Directorate of Support Services.

      Adding insulation, new windows and programmable thermostats are among other ways to reduce energy use and save energy costs at home, he said.

      Home owners can save energy costs by ensuring they have adequate levels of attic insulation, Narus said. In particular, for blown-in insulation, after about 15 years it settles thus decreasing the R-value.

      "This generally has a pretty quick payback," Narus said, "sometimes in as little as two seasons (heating and cooling)."

      Many older houses may still have single-pane windows, which can lead to a big energy loss. Narus said home owners who have single-pane windows in this climate are advised to replace them with double-pane windows as soon as possible.

      Programmable thermostats also can help reduce energy costs by reducing temperatures during cold weather and increasing temperatures during hot weather and saving energy usage when residents aren't home or are sleeping, he said.


      The installation already is on track to meet the next set of energy-reduction goals, Narus said. These are based on the 2005 energy bill recently approved by Congress and signed by President Bush. The goals are to reduce energy consumption by 2 percent each year from FY 2006 until FY 2015, a total of 20 percent, with  FY 2003 as the new baseline year, he said.

      Narus said the FY 2003 energy consumption baseline was 124.97 million British Thermal Units (mBTU)/1,000-square feet. The installation's usage for FY 2005 was 103.5 mBTU/1,000-square-feet, which is a reduction of approximately 17 percent.

      "We can't rest on our laurels," Narus said. "To continue to meet the energy-reduction goals, we'll have to have everyone on post take an active role in monitoring our energy consumption."

      Members of the work force can help by ensuring heating/cooling equipment in their areas is in proper working condition, he said. That means all furnaces and air conditioners should work properly and thermostats should be programmed, if possible, to control temperatures when occupants aren't present.

      This doesn't mean taking extreme measures to meet energy-reduction goals, he said.

      "We don't want employees (to have temperatures that are too cold or too hot and) to work in uncomfortable conditions," Narus said. "Employees should wear appropriate seasonal clothing to work to ensure their comfort."

      Anything that increases or wastes energy use should be avoided. Furnaces should be kept in working order to eliminate the use of space heaters. Broken windows or other building damage that may lead to heat (or cooling) loss should be repaired as soon as possible.

      Limiting energy use is especially key because energy costs are increasing.

      Narus said recent information from Xcel Energy stated natural gas prices may increase by as much as 50 percent this winter from the price information available in the spring, meaning that the post could spend upwards of 5 million dollars for natural gas this year.

      Personnel also can help limit energy use by ensuring that hot water heaters are set at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, whenever possible. Electronics, such as computer monitors, printers, copiers, etc., should be turned off whenever not in use, especially overnight. Lights, including exterior building lights, also should be turned off when not in use.


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