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Marines in Yuma must cut energy use by 3% annually

By Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant | | March 18, 2010

To stay in line with new federal mandates, officials here say it will take the efforts of all station personnel to reduce energy consumption by at least 3 percent a year.

The goal of the reduction is to eventually make the entire Department of Defense self-sufficient, eliminating reliance on outside sources for energy needs, said Ron Durfey, station energy manager.

Executive Order 13514, called Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, aims to reduce the federal government’s carbon footprint and energy usage by 3 percent a year.

The federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the United States. The government occupies more than 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles and purchases more than $500 billion a year in goods and services, according to a November 2009 study conducted by Verisae Inc., a private sustainability resource planning agency.

On the local front, reducing the station’s energy consumption starts with the individual Marine, sailor and civilian.

“Everybody should be thinking about energy awareness all the time,” said Cmdr. Jake Ellwood, station installation and logistics director. “Energy is on the front burner of everything the Marine Corps is doing. We need to infuse in everybody the importance of energy conservation. It’s everybody’s responsibility. Even something simple like turning out lights when they aren’t in use saves money.”  

Lights being left on all over the station means I&L personnel are forced to travel the station to turn off lights that have been left on at fields and buildings, wasting fuel and electricity, said Durfey.

One high-cost item on station is air conditioning. During the blistering summer months, the station spends nearly $500,000 a month on air conditioning alone, with lighting being in a close second, said Durfey.

The combined total use of electricity, water and natural gas cost the station nearly $5.5 million in 2009, said Andrew Hovanec, station comptroller.

Current energy usage on station is approximately 78 million BTUs per 1,000 square feet, said Durfey.

Turning off equipment and lighting that is not in use is a big help in reducing the energy usage in the workplace and in the barracks or housing, said Durfey.

“If you don’t need it, turn it off,” said Durfey. “The energy we use has to be created by the energy companies. The production of that energy causes the release of greenhouse gasses, which we are also trying to reduce.”

Marine Corps Installations West held the West Coast Energy Summit Feb. 24-25, 2010, emphasizing the need to reduce energy usage in base facilities and daily life, and to shed light on the direction the Navy and Marine Corps is heading in regards to energy.

This reinforced the Facilities Energy and Water Management Campaign Plan signed by the commandant in April 2009.

The plan addresses strategic and immediate actions to reduce energy usage at Marine Corps installations, with the intent of aggressively identifying, developing and implementing energy efficiency strategies as well as develop renewable energy sources.

The station has several projects in the works to meet goals set by the President, Congress and the commandant to support national efforts to lower energy usage and reduce operating costs.

Station projects include solar panel arrays to power individual buildings, and the station’s perimeter fence is already lit using solar powered lights, each reducing the station’s energy consumption. In addition, any building renovations and new buildings are designed to be more energy efficient, with energy efficient air conditioning, lighting and appliances.

The station is also required to have all electrical, water and gas usage metered by 2012. Doing so will enable energy managers to determine the exact usage on station and determine how much energy needs to be saved.

Still, it may not be enough unless everyone pitches in.

“Reducing energy usage by 3 percent per year is a hard feat to do,” said Durfey. “Corpswide it would be like taking Yuma off the map every year. It takes a combination of energy projects and policing ourselves to reduce energy usage. It’s up to us as individuals to conserve.”

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