In response to “Going green is the U.S. Navy’s goal at Guantanamo” (article, stripes.com, Feb. 10): Another big win for the U.S. military. Although the Department of Defense only accounts for less than 2 percent of U.S. energy consumption, it is still the nation’s largest single user. The amount of energy used by active-duty military and civilian personnel is 35 percent higher than the country’s energy consumption per capita.
So it is easy to see why access to consistently reliable sources of energy — at an affordable price — is vital to our military’s efforts. Without it, our global strategies and operating forces are put at risk. Senior commanders clearly see dependence on a limited supply of fuel and the bulk electrical grid as major liabilities.
As vice president of federal systems for Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, I work with federal agencies, including DOD, to help them increase their energy efficiency. One path to improved energy security is through conservation, one of the most powerful tools in helping to maintain a plentiful and affordable energy supply. Studies have continually shown that it is less expensive to save energy than to find or create new sources of it. As less electricity is used at DOD installations, the more “secure” the supply becomes.
Conservation has become even more important in light of highlighted federal energy initiatives, such as President Barack Obama’s recent directive requiring federal agencies to make $2 billion worth of energy-efficiency upgrades over the next two years. However, the diverse and often aging buildings on military installations make achieving conservation goals a major challenge. And it becomes even more problematic to effectively monitor, control and conserve energy when many installations use a variety of outdated building automation systems.
So what steps can military commanders take to maintain a plentiful energy supply? One step is to make optimal use of modern energy monitoring and utility control systems that integrate data to produce intelligent control of an installation’s entire built environment from a single command and control center. This strategy has been shown to lower energy use by 20 percent and more. Energy conservation also results from the retrofitting of lighting and heating, ventilating and air conditioning with more energy-efficient systems. Where possible, it also means looking at the on-site generation of renewable energy.
There is no time to wait. America’s worldwide interests depend on a military having the energy it needs to respond when called upon to act.