July 19, 2010

The U.S. Air National Guard is increasingly investing in green energy as it seeks to reach its goal of generating 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, according to a report on the National Guard’s website.

The entire Department of Defense, of which the Air National Guard is a part, is also planning to reduce its overall energy intensity by 30 percent by 2015. As a result, the Air National Guard is involved in several energy saving and energy generating initiatives. The Air National Guard paid $82 million in facility energy costs last year, or 4.2 million MMBTUs, with two-thirds of that amount coming from electrical demand, according to the report.

Several bases, like the Ohio Air Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing and the Fresno Air National Guard Base, have already installed wind or solar electricity generating equipment in order to reduce grid demand, the report said. Arizona’s 162nd Fighter Wing, meanwhile, replaced its flood lights around Tucson International Airport with a solar powered system. A base in Great Falls, Mont., may install what would be the largest wind power system of any Air Guard base in the country.

Other bases are requesting that their electricity utility suppliers source their power from renewable sources, while a quarter of the Air Guards bases are now using geothermal energy in some capacity. Several are also pursuing plans to construct or retrofit green roofs to insulate their facilities and reduce rainwater runoff.

Even bases located in parts of the country where installing renewable energy systems aren’t feasible (either due to the cost of the technology or lack of financial support from the state government) are building new facilities with potential future retrofits in mind. That way, if renewable energy systems become more economically feasible in the future, retrofitting those bases will be a relatively simple process.

In order to reduce energy consumption, the Air Guard has plans to subject all of its facilities to energy audits by the end of the year, roughly 100 locations. The Guard is also installing smart metering systems to allow it to document and reduce its electricity, gas and water consumption. It’s also recalibrating several of its facility systems, such as its heating, ventilation, A/C and lighting systems to make sure they work together in the most efficient way possible.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Air Force Base (AFB) is getting a $2.1 million solar photovoltaic retrofit, while Fort Drum, home of the famed 10th Mountain Division in Jefferson County, N.Y., is receiving over 1,000 new lighting fixtures that will reduce energy and maintenance costs for the 107,000 acre installation.