Government breaking ground with green efforts

Posted on: June 30th, 2014
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In recent years, the government has been looking to embrace more clean energy in order to cut back on spending and greatly reduce environmental damage. Interest has been growing in alternative energy in the U.S., and by embracing options like geothermal heating, the government can set a green example for all the country’s residents while also cutting down on spending. Moreover, these efforts may be able to make a major difference in preserving the planet’s precious resources.

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Energy makes up an enormous segment of the military budget. In fact, The Republic reported that the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual energy budget is about $20 billion, or 80 percent of the federal government’s total consumption, and U.S. military bases alone spend a whopping $4 billion on energy every year. Now, the Department of Defense is aiming to lower that usage for both to promote sustainability and to save taxpayers a substantial amount of money.

Green goals
The government is aiming high. According to BusinessGreen, every military branch has pledged to adopt 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025. In 2012, just 4 percent of the DoD’s electricity came from renewable sources, but the agency plans to leverage at least one-fourth of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. In addition, an Obama administration policy has mandated that the U.S. military deploy 3 gigawatts of solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy by that year.

The DoD has a lot of work to do, but the agency has been making strides in regard to reaching these objectives. A recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that between 2010 and 2012, the number of renewable energy projects enforced by the U.S. military surged 43 percent from 454 to 700. Meanwhile, facility energy intensity dropped by 4 percent in 2012, and fell an impressive 17.7 percent since 2003. Some of these successes are due to the fact that a Congressional mandate requires 3 percent reductions in energy intensity every year.

“The DOD is definitely looking at becoming more green,” Tech. Sgt. Mark Orders-Woempner with the 434th ARW Public Affairs office told the Kokomo Tribune. “Every base has its own unique mission sets, and every facility has its own characteristics. But across the board, the DOD is looking for innovative ways to save money and protect the environment.”

Making progress
One project that has been breaking ground in these regards is the Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana. One of the most significant developments was the implementation of a geothermal heating and cooling unit. The Republic noted that this is the first time an Air Force Reserve Command base has installed such a system to heat and cool the facility. Sam Pier, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron mechanical engineer, is responsible for deciding that the technology was ideal for Grissom.

“When we knew the building was going to be renovated, Wayne Raby, 434th CES project manager, and I sat down and thought about what type of systems we wanted to utilize in the 14,900-square-foot facility,” Pier said, as quoted by the Kokomo Tribune. “I had experience with residential-type geothermal units and wanted to see if there was a way to incorporate that technology here.”

Orders-Woempner expects that the energy savings will be immediate, and that the system will pay for itself within a decade.

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