FORT WORTH — Energy efficiency is on the mind of every homeowner, but the same could be said of Uncle Sam.
Officials at Naval Air Station Fort Worth are increasingly embracing greener initiatives to reduce electricity, gas, water and fuel consumption and use alternative energy sources.
The military and its leaders are interested for reasons beyond helping the Earth: Every dollar spent on the light bill is a dollar not spent on ammunition or training, not to mention the recognition that Middle East oil carries with it a significant foreign policy and military impact.
"Energy, how we generate it and use it, is of major consequence to the sustainability of our war-fighting readiness," said the base commander, Capt. T.D. Smyers. "NAS Fort Worth is aggressively finding appropriate alternate energy sources while reducing consumption.
"It's part of being a responsible partner in green efforts across the government. It represents responsible use of tax dollars, and it's the only reliable way to sustain our war-fighting capability while reducing our dependence on overseas sources."
Few people outside the base will ever be aware of the initiatives because access is restricted, none of them can be easily seen from Texas 183, and they are largely aimed at incrementally reducing consumption. The government requires 3 percent cuts every year.
Last fall, the base signed a 15-year agreement with an energy services company to upgrade the lighting, heating/air conditioning and energy management systems that officials say will cut 28 million British thermal units in consumption every year, a dramatic reduction in dozens of buildings.
The base has dropped its energy consumption per square foot by 14 percent since 2003, better than required by the Defense Department. But with the low-hanging fruit mostly gone, base officials have to get more creative.
By signing on with the energy services company, the base expects savings of more than $700,000 a year over the life of the contract, said Nelson Wells, resource efficiency manager for the base.
"The benefit from our perspective is that they go out and find the money to recapitalize the equipment," Wells said. "We pay them back with the energy savings, which they guarantee, and when the contract is over, we get to keep all the savings."
The energy company is also constructing a 10-kilowatt solar panel to help power several buildings, and it is creating a master control system in the public works building to better control the heating and air-conditioning systems basewide. Leaving the thermostat to individual units has proved too wasteful, Wells said.
"There are lots of buildings where the A/C is always on," he said. "We've got to capture savings there by better regulating the systems."
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