It was a general view among participants who spoke at the workshop that Air Force leadership has stepped up to spend on reducing energy use in buildings in response to federal mandates, but there have been no comparable goals or mandates addressing the fuel or industrial process aspects of the problem, despite the likelihood that the lower-hanging fruit and biggest potential reductions are on the aviation side. There appears to be no guidance that puts an emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation in decisions related to process energy use. Several speakers asserted that the procurement process needs to be adjusted in order to better reflect total life-cycle O&M costs for equipment purchases. Often, more efficient equipment has a higher upfront cost but can deliver significant energy savings over its useful life. In general, many participants thought that the Air Force has been forced to take an ad hoc approach to energy efficiency and conservation improvements, reacting to available funding or available resources to support a specific effort. Sometimes, projects can counteract each other and cumulatively miss the “big picture” objective. For example, one participant pointed out that process energy needs are not necessarily compatible with the installation of nonfirm renewable power generation.
Several participants believed that the Air Force should consider taking a more holistic approach to developing a long-term strategy for addressing the energy cost and delivery of buildings and facilities for a particular base or depot, regardless of current funding sources. They noted that this could also be done within the context of local and regional energy issues and opportunities. In that way, a base could collaborate with local groups to implement an overarching strategy when and if it became appropriate to pull in other non-Air Force resources, and simultaneously the base could apply available Air Force resources to projects within a larger strategic plan for the facility as they become available. Energy efficiency is likely an area that would provide a significant ROI. Moreover, DuPont has found that there are ways to save money by streamlining the project-management process itself. Thus the problem may be related less to a lack of funds and more to insufficient focus on energy by the allocation process. Several speakers noted that the way in which energy plays into the Air Force base decision process needs to be codified.
A budget is an expression of values and priorities at a given time. A variety of government budget authorities and of public and private mechanisms are available to fund energy-reduction projects. These include the following:
• Operations and maintenance (“3400”) funds, used to recapitalize infrastructure. The Air Force has historically funded this at less than 2 percent of plant replacement value, compared with a typical private-industry investment of 6 to 8 percent.