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News > Commentary - Energy focus and a new student union!
Energy focus and a new student union!

Posted 10/5/2011   Updated 10/5/2011 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Col. Mike Hornitschek
Air Mobility Wing commander


10/5/2011 - Scott Air Force Base, Ill. -- There's some great news for us on the Comprehensive Airman Fitness front as the idea for a Team Scott Student Union has been approved and funded, and we'll be looking for a spring opening!

This comes after months of planning and design of an area for our students to use as they attend classes at our education center, as well as creating a place for patrons of the Airman and Family Readiness Center and ALL other groups and individuals from across the base to use. We assessed our needs and felt that a student union would give our community a place to gather and a place for coffee or snacks when between classes. Our goal is to uniquely create on an Air Force base a connecting atmosphere common to student unions at campuses across the country. As you can see by the design, it'll be a very warm and welcoming place for all of us!

As part of the design, we made it a priority that it be net-zero or near net-zero energy usage, and it couldn't be more timely news as we celebrate Energy Awareness Month during October. What that means is that by using solar energy panels and other green technologies, we're able to construct this area without adding any additional power usage costs for the base!

This is important for all of us especially as we work to implement the energy management plan as outlined by Air Mobility Command, which is to reduce our energy and water consumption. An Energy Management Steering Group was formed to address various issues that include:
-Reduce the aviation fuel use per hour by 10 percent by 2015;
-Reduce ground fuel use by 2 percent each year;
-Reduce base energy intensity by 3 percent per year; and
-Increase the use of renewable energy sources.

Responsible energy use is here is stay and Scott AFB will lead from the front. To meet some of these objectives, Scott is aligned behind the Air Force's energy strategy which is to 1) reduce demand, 2) increase supply, and 3) make energy a consideration in all we do. One of the prime reasons to use energy responsibly is to save money. FY12 presents us with some significant fiscal challenges, and every dollar we save in energy costs is a dollar we can apply toward mission accomplishment or quality of life improvement. One item AMC and Scott AFB have taken quick action on is to publish a new policy that work place refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee pots are only allowed in common areas and break rooms and that all space heaters must be approved and issued by facility managers--no more personal appliances. For Scott AFB this policy went into effect Oct. 1--organizations have until Jan. 1, 2012 to eliminate unapproved items. We know that Scott's citizens are responsible enough to trade some of their personal convenience to enhance our collective energy security--I got rid of the TV and refrigerator in my office a long time ago. Besides, using the office coffee pot or fridge increases my opportunity to connect with my co-workers--it's a good thing. We'll be working with commanders and our facility managers throughout the base to help us enforce this policy, and we're asking people to understand the big picture as noted by the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, Dorothy Robyn.

Ms. Robyn states the Defense Department is the single largest energy consumer in the United States, accounting for about 90 percent of the federal government's energy use. For every dollar spent on energy at Scott AFB, 12 cents is for water, 15 cents is for natural gas, and 73 cents is for electricity. That equates to $12 million each year on electricity, gas and water for the base to operate. With a normal work population of 12,000 personnel, that comes to about $1,000 per person per year.

Robyn said, "Our bill last year (for DoD) was $15 billion, and three quarters of that was for operational energy fuel," referring to the fuel used to operate tanks, ships and planes and run generators at forward operating bases.

She explained that we spend $4 billion a year for electricity that powers 300,000 buildings on DoD installations--barracks and data centers and offices and hospitals--and to operate 200,000 vehicles. The Defense Department's three-part energy strategy, she said, is to reduce demand for traditional energy, expand the supply of renewable and other alternative energy, and in other ways address the energy security of its installations.

Energy efficiency can be one of those topics that people take for granted, but if you're like me, it is a subject that resonates deeply because of our concern for leaving this world a better place for future generations. Our current day resources are finite and not simply here for our generation to consume, and it's important for all of us--as parents, citizens, leaders, service members-to recognize our personal responsibility and contributions to protecting these resources, and finding and supporting solutions to the challenges we face.

The Air Force emphasizes that energy efficiency and conservation must be instilled in every Airman's daily efforts and integrated into every aspect of our mission. All Airmen--in operations, maintenance, and mission support; from the flightline to the hangar to the military personnel flight--must realize the critical link between energy and our ability to continue making critical contributions to the Joint team.

We are working toward a future with more fuel-efficient systems and there's a sense of urgency in light of continued decreases in our budgets and purchasing power when compared to the rising costs in operations, maintenance, sustainment, personnel, and energy. This integration of realizing energy efficiency matters to both the installation's support side and the aviation side.

That's why it's important for each of us to conserve energy by doing simple things such as turning off lights and choosing energy efficient solutions to our heating and cooling needs. We all have the power to shape our energy future and move our nation toward energy independence.



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