Saving energy in buildings is key to the US military’s energy strategy, explains Howard Snow, former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for installations, facilities and energy.
China has emerged as the world’s most voracious energy consumer, impacting both the political and commercial climates in the U.S. During World War II, 75 percent of the Allied Powers’ fuel supply came from the United States. Today, much of our fuel supply is sourced from countries that are neither friendly nor reliable. With the mounting competition from China and other emerging countries, the need for a comprehensive energy strategy is of great national importance.
In recognition of this fact, the Department of Defense (DoD) has admirably focused its efforts on developing a strategy which values energy as a resource capable of providing an operational advantage for defense forces worldwide. This comprehensive energy effort at the strategic, operational, tactical and installation levels has at its backbone energy security, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. As the DoD moves forward, one area that has proven to be a powerful force multiplier is mining energy savings out of current usage.
On February 3, 2011 President Obama announced the Better Building Initiative which set a national target of improving energy efficiency in buildings by 20 percent by 2020. This initiative is built upon 2007’s Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which requires federal agencies to perform building audits to reinforce energy reduction goals. Nearly 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2012 was consumed by buildings.
To combat this consumption, meet the requirements set by the Better Buildings Initiative and mine savings from current usage, the DoD turned to its environmental technology demonstration and validation program, the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), for help. The ESTCP promotes the transfer of innovative technologies that can successfully assist the DoD in meeting goals.
As one recent example, the ESTCP recommended that the DoD use FirstFuel Software, an energy use intelligence provider, to gain insight into how its buildings were consuming energy. The DoD used FirstFuel’s Remote Building Analytics (RBA) platform in a pilot project to determine whether the end-to-end solution could enable the department to scale energy efficiency initiatives across the military’s large and varied building portfolio. The platform’s advanced analytics were applied to 100 DoD buildings across five different building types on 11 military installations throughout the country.
Unlike the costly, time consuming and manpower-intensive traditional audits that yield lengthy reports which are difficult to use as efficiency prioritization and planning tools, the DoD found the remote auditing approach extremely efficient. Using the platform, which was found to be compatible with approximately 90 percent of the organization’s building portfolio, the DoD was able to complete building assessments in a matter of hours (regardless of size or type of building) and at a fraction of the cost, while simultaneously yielding performance analysis results similar to ASHRAE Level II onsite audits.
Through the analyses, the DoD building managers are able to leverage both operational and retrofit reports to execute against recommended plans for both immediate energy efficiency savings and reduced consumption through long term physical improvements – demonstrating scalable energy efficiency improvements for the DoD and government. Leveraging data analytics enables the DoD to increase the dollars in current military budgets, meet the EISA mandate and save taxpayers money. This is a no brainer. Let’s get to work.