Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. --
When Marine Corps Base Quantico started implementing a "benchmark building performance" energy conservation program last year, Jeff Boelman, head of Naval Health Clinic Quantico’s Facilities Department, expected difficulty in changing people’s behaviors.
"When they first came out with it, I thought, this is going to be very difficult, very hard, but I think it’s long overdue," he said. However, with the support of his command and the occupants of the mainside clinic — as well as a heating and cooling system with multiple air handlers — the building was able to reduce its weekend electricity costs by more than 30 percent.
Last summer, Marine Corps Base Quantico piloted a month-long "Power-Down Weekend" program, aimed at raising awareness of energy use and encouraging base and tenant commands to save energy by turning off computers, monitors, lights, fans, printers and other equipment over the weekend.
The posters advertising the campaign came down long ago, but the Public Works Branch’s energy team has continued to work with representatives from base and tenant commands to keep energy use down, especially on evenings and weekends.
"In the big picture, our objective is to instill an energy ethos in the Marines and civilians working on the base," said Stefanie Kivelin, the base energy manager.
She said the goal is to meet a federal requirement to continue reducing overall energy consumption by 3 percent per year, and also to save money during a time of tight budgets.
For the pilot program, the energy team established an energy conservation officer for the headquarters building of each of 14 commands aboard the base. The ECO was tasked with both encouraging building occupants to shut down lighting and machinery on Friday evenings, and recording the building’s weekly and weekend energy consumption.
Another command — Training and Education Command — has been added to the program, as have some other buildings within the commands. Twenty-one buildings are now participating, and the energy team hopes to have 75 facilities on board by the end of the year.
A new format for reporting results has also been developed, with an Excel workbook that automatically generates and graphs weekly and weekend energy consumption when ECOs enter meter data, said Paul Southwell, the base resource efficiency manager.
"Because of our formatting and our reporting, they can actually see their efforts," he said. "We’re going with the premise that if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it."
Not all buildings can participate because not all have power meters. The base recently installed about 80 meters and is in the process of installing another 78.
In participating buildings, all occupants are encouraged to power down whatever they can, not just over the weekend but before leaving work each day. Kivelin said that by eliminating the miscellaneous power loads they have control over, buildings should be able to reduce their consumption by about 20 percent, and this is the goal set in each ECO’s workbook.
As the program expands, ECOs in the command buildings will become energy coordinators, with ECOs in each of the other buildings in the command reporting results to them. ECOs will also be trained to interpret reported data and perform energy audits on their buildings.
Kivelin said habits are changing, and at least on Friday evenings, about 80 percent of the monitors in Building 2004, where Public Works Branch is located, are turned off. "People are definitely getting better about it," she said.
"It depends on buy-in from the top down," Southwell said.
"If we didn’t have the upper command, the upper echelon behind it, I don’t think it would have worked as well as it has," said Boelman, who is the ECO for the clinic.
The clinic was the only building that managed to bring its weekend energy consumption down during last year’s pilot. Others ended up with rising energy use, probably because the baseline for comparison was established in April and May, and the trial was carried out in June, as the need for cooling increased.
Boelman said the clinic was able to reverse this trend largely because nine of its 11 air handling units could be shut down over weekends, leaving just a couple on for areas with sensitive equipment, such as the pharmacy and the lab. The clinic has continued to power down most of its climate control for weekends, although temperatures are now maintained between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We still take meter readings every Friday evening and every Monday morning, and we’ll continue doing that so we know how much energy we’re using," he said.
Boelman said he’s also still looking for ways to save energy, such as lighting systems and other equipment that could be replaced with more efficient models.
Ultimately, the energy team hopes to make the program a basewide initiative.
"The success of the program really is based on getting support from every command in establishing these ECOs," said Southwell.
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