October is Energy Action Month, and it provides an opportunity to promote energy and water conservation awareness to Airmen as part of a national campaign led by the Department of Energy. This year’s theme, “I am Air Force Energy,” puts the Airman at the center of the campaign. The goal is to inspire the Total Force to make a commitment to a continual change in organizational and personal energy use, and help Airmen realize they can make a difference in the service’s overall energy efforts.
Beginning this month, the Air Force will highlight energy success stories from around the service enterprise in videos, fact sheets, and articles distributed via www.af.mil, Facebook, YouTube and base newspapers. These will celebrate the innovative ideas and accomplishments of Airmen at all levels across the country and around the world, and provide energy-saving tips to reduce energy and water use, and save money.
“Every Airman is charged to make energy a consideration in all we do and through active awareness and training programs we enforce that charge,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers, Air Force Civil Engineer. “We must take the lead in energy conservation, renewable energy utilization, and energy security as the Air Force seeks to save energy, reduce costs, and keep our country insulated from the volatility energy engenders.”
All the data is not yet in, but the Air Force estimates it spent more than $10 billion on energy in fiscal 2012, almost 10 percent of its total budget.
“The Air Force is fully committed to improving resiliency, reducing demand, assuring supply and fostering an energy aware culture,” said Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of Air Force installations, environment and logistics. “The overriding concern is to secure energy for the future.”
Achieving each of these goals — improving resiliency, reducing demand, assuring supply and fostering an energy aware culture — involves the hard work and innovation of Airmen. In the last year, a number of Airmen have gone above and beyond to have a real impact.
Capt. Reid Touchberry, the energy manager at Misawa Air Base, Japan, helped get the power back on immediately following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. He led the “Base Energy Nerve Cell” consisting of Airmen, Japanese engineers and contractors. The team tracked generator assets; developed contingency plans to restore power using large-scale mobile generators; developed and implemented an emergency conservation plan; and promoted energy conservation across the base that will save an estimated $3 million annually.
Air Mobility Command provides worldwide cargo and passenger delivery, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation, and transports humanitarian relief supplies in response to global disasters. AMC successfully implemented software that gives pilots the most energy-efficient altitude and speed based on atmospheric conditions. AMC also upgraded the KC-135 engine and is funding a fuel efficiency initiative to reduce drag on the KC-10. These three initiatives are projected to save the Defense Department $284 million over the next 10 years.
The 75th Medical Group at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, reduced energy demand in its two clinics by 43 percent in 2011. The 75th MDG created customized climate control settings for telecommunication equipment rooms on a designated air conditioning system, adjusted indoor climate set-points, replaced single pane windows and doors, and inefficient light bulbs.
To increase fuel supply the Air Force is looking to alternative domestic fuels. In support of this initiative, Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Aaron Jelinek flew the first solo flight on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 traditional jet fuel and a biomass fuel derived from plant seed oil and animal fat in 2011. Since then, the Air Force has certified all aircraft on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and synthetic fuel; and 80 percent of its aircraft on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and biofuel. By 2016, the Air Force will be prepared to meet half of its domestic fuel requirement with alternative fuel blends.
Fostering an aware culture
The Air Force is implementing energy awareness training and education for Airmen, civilians and contractors during basic training, officer training, technical school and more. There is also an online outreach module available to all Air Force personnel with a Common Access Card on the Advanced Distance Learning System. It provides energy tips specific to various job functions.