CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Watching paint dry usually doesn’t draw a crowd.

It’s a horse of a different color if you’re with Camp Butler’s environmental affairs branch and expect that a paint treatment might save Camp Foster $3,000 to $6,000 a year in energy bills for one building.

Environmental experts gathered Thursday atop Building 473 as workers sprayed a second layer of thermal insulation coating to the 17,000 square feet of the four-story barracks’ roof.

Most Marine Corps buildings here have roofs of untreated concrete that easily overheat, requiring more energy to cool them, said Les Smith, of the branch’s facility engineers.

With the passing of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the branch has stepped up its efforts to reduce Camp Butler’s energy use, Smith said.

The treatment is one of those efforts.

"It’s pretty unique stuff," Smith said.

The coating reflects 98 percent of the energy striking its surface, said inventor John P. Albright, of Florida-based Specialty Concrete Design Inc.

The water-based nonhazardous treatment has an added quality not common to other reflective paints: It also insulates, keeping warmth or coolness from leaking from a surface it covers, Albright said.

And that helps maintain the ambient temperature within a building, saving the energy needed to maintain even temperatures and lowering heating and cooling costs, Smith explained.

One treatment is expected to reduce rooftop heat by about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a project proposal.

The treatment is expected to last up to 15 years — twice the lifetime of regular paint at six years — so it also reduces maintenance costs, said Joe Vogel, of the environmental affairs branch.

Albright said the treatment is the offshoot of another project the company is working on for the Department of Defense — a runway material that should withstand the heat and pressure created by F-35 strike fighters.

The thermal insulating treatment being used here is just another application of that material, Albright said.

Butler’s Camp Foster is the first U.S. military installation to get the treatment, and results will be observed closely, Vogel said.

Workers also will apply the treatment to the roof and exterior of Building 470.

A third nearby barracks will remain untreated, and all three buildings will be monitored over the next year.

Instruments will record exterior and interior surface temperatures, ambient room temperatures and interior relative humidity, said Lubka Robertson, an engineer for the environmental affairs branch.

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