The final day of the workshop was devoted primarily to general discussion and to distilling and considering the main points that had been presented. The discussion involved the following topic areas: (1) management and leadership, (2) budgets and funding, (3) information resources, (4) metrics, (5) culture change, (6) personnel and training, and (7) investment opportunities.
To most participants who spoke at the workshop, it appeared that the Air Force has a solid overall energy strategy and that the representatives from bases such as Arnold AFB and Tinker AFB have a nuanced and well-thought-out understanding of energy usage in general and of process energy and opportunities for addressing the associated challenges without impact to the mission. With the right vision from leadership and access to resources, the facility managers who addressed the workshop appear to be well positioned to implement improvements. Many participants were impressed with the progress that the Air Force has made on its energy goals. Stimulated at least in part by the successful efforts of civil engineers who have demonstrated that a reduction of energy waste in facilities augments mission capability, most participants seemed to think that everyone is trying to support the energy goals of the Air Force.
The primary criteria on which the Air Force is judged are combat readiness and mission capability; reducing energy use can contribute to energy security and can save money that can be used to improve readiness, but reduction in energy use per se is not a primary objective, especially if it conflicts with maintaining mission capability. Many speakers noted that energy reduction will not stand a chance if it stands alone; it needs to be a part of every operational decision. Energy projects that have a long payback time are particularly hard to fund and sustain, in part because the tenure of any particular commander is typically short compared to the payback time. For example, it was noted that paint hangars are expected to last a long time and should be able to sustain long-term investments.
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.
• Research, development, test, and evaluation (“3600”) funds, controlled by A3 (Operations) of which approximately $300 million is to sustain the test program infrastructure. It does not appear that energy-and water-conservation projects have received support from this community. Also, energy and water conservation are not included as part of the discussion in test infrastructure/equipment construction, restoration/modernization, sustainment and demolition.
• Milcon (“3300”) funds for new construction and major renovation and Working Capital Fund Capital Investment Program (WCF CIP), controlled by A4 (Installations and Logistics). The U.S. Army Materiel Command has designated 6 percent of its CIP for infrastructure renewal projects, in compliance with guidance from the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (Public Law No. 109-364). The Air Force does not appear to have interpreted this as a “hard and fast” requirement. Although there are recent successes of including energy and water conservation in some infrastructure/equipment upgrades, the concept is not fully integrated into the Depot Maintenance Activity Group framework—which consists of infrastructure/equipment construction, restoration/modernization, and sustainment and demolition.
• Third-party funding, a financial contract in which a company saves the Air Force energy and/or water over a period of years, and for payment over the term, keeps the savings. These include Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Savings Contracts. The Air Force expects to rely more heavily on third-party funding for energy projects in the future as internal funding sources shrink.
No Air Force budget line is specifically devoted to energy. Several workshop participants expressed the idea that these diverse sources tend to lead to a fragmented, ad hoc approach to energy projects that lacks a long-term vision, is suboptimized, and can lead to “color-of-money” constraints. Most participants felt that the Air Force’s use of ESPCs, as required by presidential order, is a good mechanism for providing funding for infrastructure and efficiency improvements in the absence of other funding sources. ESPCs accomplish the goal of reducing energy usage (intensity), although they do not result in cost savings to the Air Force over the near term and may actually result in cost increases if a contract needs to be “bought out” due to base closure or shifting priorities. Nonetheless, absent other funding sources, they appear to be a valid mechanism and worth implementing.
Several workshop participants noted that Air Force personnel should look for opportunities to identify the processes that offer the largest potential ROI for energy-reduction
and also should seek opportunities to leverage what they know and how they do what they do through collaboration and networking with subject-matter experts and consortia of organizations concerned with making processes better, faster, cheaper, safer, and more energy-efficient. This collaboration could be institutionalized. Examples include the Construction Industry Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, which brings together experts from many major companies, academia, and government to discuss technical concerns. The Air Force could consider stimulating an analogous interaction with industry, academia, and other agencies on a continuing basis. The key to the success of such collaborations is a continuing interaction, with a focus on accomplishment. In this environment, all participants can receive benefits that far exceed participation costs. Networking can also be done remotely. Many participants agreed that there is a reservoir of goodwill and desire to help the country in many major companies, especially if the information provided will be used on a noncompetitive basis.
The technical underpinnings for such an interaction are in place. For example, DuPont has a list of best practices that it used when it increased output while decreasing energy input. Robins AFB started an energy and conservation forum in 2008 to discuss energy-reduction efforts in the AFMC, and further forums are planned. But many participants noted that the primary emphasis of such efforts has been on the civil engineering (CE) side rather than on the process side. These efforts can be folded into— and serve as foundation for—Air Force participation. Finally, the Advanced Manufacturing Office within DOE’s EERE has been working with companies to improve processes for 30 years. All of the resulting documents are free and available on the web. The Federal Energy Management Program in DOE’s EERE offers consulting services, with experts in various process technologies, and evaluation software tools.
Since energy, water, and waste issues often scale beyond the installation perimeter, several participants stressed that it is important for base commanders to get involved with the broader community—for example, by participating in energy-use groups. Such participation has already saved money at Tinker AFB. The larger the set of parameters over which a solution is optimized, the less likely one is to have a suboptimized, inefficient solution. However, participants noted that it also should be recognized that each Air Force installation is unique and may have its own special requirements. Awareness of new technologies and ways of doing things is important. Training and software tools are available, but they must be adapted to local procedures. It is becoming increasingly feasible to develop computer-based models of a facility that provide the information needed to plan and assess the impact of emerging energy, water, and waste technologies.
Energy efficiency, water conservation, process improvement, smart grid, smart buildings, facilities, and cities are all major engineering research topics today. Thus it was not surprising to hear from industry speakers that their research staff is intimately involved in improving energy productivity. Several participants noted that the Air Force Research Laboratory is well positioned to help the Air Force improve its energy usage and has published a description of its energy focus. However, it appeared to several
participants that the relationship between the depots and AFRL is limited. They thought that AFRL could be tasked with helping the depots. This tasking would be consistent with a focus on next-generation technologies. Improvement of industrial processes is a fertile field for innovative engineering research. For example, an AFRL-funded industry partnership developed improved high-speed drill bits that lasted longer and saved water.
Some participants noted that a second tasking for AFRL could be to serve as the primary interface between the Air Force and the DOE national laboratories. The Air Force could take advantage of these resources, but the various DOE laboratories compete with each other for funding. Choosing the right avenue of collaboration requires that the users of the technology be knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of the various programs. The staff members of AFRL are the technical peers of the DOE scientists and engineers and are likely in the best position in the Air Force to provide the interface needed to use the national laboratories’ capabilities effectively.
Several participants were of the opinion that a third tasking for AFRL could be to form a closer relationship with Air Force energy managers. Much of the ad hoc approach to energy at Air Force installations is due to the fact that installations do not have the technical capability to assess technologies and systems with existing staff and often rely on open-source information without due diligence to the overall Air Force approach. For example, an industry provider may approach the CE lead at an installation with a valid technology for battery storage on a site, but the local CE lead might not have the capability to assess this across all battery technologies or similar technologies (e.g., flywheels).1 There are many best practices to identify and share, such as Arnold AFB, Tennessee, managing its workload by moving high-energy-use testing to off-peak hours (nighttime) to reduce costs. One suggestion was to compile examples from both the Air Force and industry into a best-practices handbook that could be useful in sharing those experiences. Other participants indicated that there are likely opportunities to install energy saving measures such as soft starts and variable frequency drives on equipment, and that an inventory of such opportunities should be conducted on a facility-by-facility basis.
Many workshop participants agreed with the idea that data—and therefore appropriate metrics—are critical for various purposes such as the following: for raising awareness of energy use, driving culture change, making the business case for investments, and presenting the value proposition to commanders that energy use can be reduced while improving mission capability at the same time. However, as metering and data collection are improved in order to understand energy usage, it is important to understand what will be done with the resulting information in order to avoid
1The three taskings may require some restructuring of how AFRL operates since energy issues cut across AFRL directorates.
“collecting data for data’s sake.” One participant noted that developing a data-collection and data-management plan to inform the overall objectives can avoid the challenge of swimming in data that are not meaningfully used.
Data are also important in order to understand actual performance versus projected performance. Often, systems underperform compared to expectations, and documenting why this occurs is important for improving future projects. Also, one participant stated that people involved in a specific project can become “project champions” and at times can lack objectivity. Having a process to go back and assess actual performance to inform future project and funding decisions is important. Several participants were of the opinion that in the next 10 years, metering of energy use—at least at the building level—will indicate new ways to improve and will “break the waves” for more detailed energy analyses at the individual process level. Many stated that the Air Force should consider adopting the Navy Geospatial Energy Module/Energy Dashboard, which can roll energy usage from a building to the facility level and provide clear energy information to users compared to an established baseline. The Air Force’s advanced meter reading system as presented at the workshop may perform a similar function, but participants commented that it would be worth comparing best practices with the Navy so as to avoid re-creating a system that already exists.
A frequently expressed view by the participants was that the Air Force needs better energy-use metrics that measure the right things. The most commonly used metric for energy intensity is British thermal units per square foot (which should be reported in joules per square meter, since the U.S. government has committed to the use of the metric system). This metric is driven by the externally mandated goals. It is obviously a metric that focuses on building shells and personnel habits. As such, it has stimulated the DoD to invest in energy efficiency in order to meet mandated improvements in that metric. Largely, the investments appear to have been made in ways that enhance both energy security and mission effectiveness. But one participant noted that this metric is flawed in three important ways:
• It rewards lightly used and lightly serviced buildings. In the extreme, it could serve as an impediment to the destruction of obsolete and unsafe buildings. More importantly, however, it rewards light rather than optimal use of a facility. It counts the consolidation of activities and/or surges in personnel or mission activities as an increase in energy intensity, whereas these are actually actions that can reduce the energy required to meet the mission effectively.
• The DoD maintains industrial facilities that produce products. An example is the Air Force depots that refurbish the nation’s military aircraft. Industrial experience suggests that there is significant energy and cost savings that could be achieved by a serious look at these processes. The metric used, however, stimulated a funding focus on facilities, thereby limiting the funding available to address energy-intensive processes and the equipment that leads to that inefficiency.
Several participants agreed that the important issue raised in this discussion is that the Air Force would benefit if it had a coherent and transparent set of metrics that related energy use to the accomplishment of the mission—the desired metric for making a value proposition to decision makers and commanders. For industrial processes, this might be energy used per unit of product (for example, General Motors uses megawatt-hours per vehicle). One way of accounting for surges in activity might be to normalize the existing energy-intensity metric to the number of direct labor hours. The current energy-intensity metric, albeit flawed, demonstrates that metrics can stimulate beneficial behavior. Many participants believed that the Air Force should consider concentrating more effort on developing a set of metrics that permit it to improve its mission capability while lowering energy use and cost.
Another view stated that it is also important to recognize that in some areas in which process energy is central to the mission, opportunities for large-scale reductions in energy usage or savings are not feasible. This consideration needs to be reconciled with established metrics such as energy intensity. Energy intensity as a singular metric is probably not appropriately applied to facilities with high process energy needs required to meet their mission.
Many workshop participants were of the opinion that the Air Force is making good progress toward metering individual facilities; however, it is imperative that the information get back to the individual users of that facility, who are in the best position to enact small, incremental changes. The Air Force estimates that behavior change can result in a 2 percent improvement in energy usage for buildings. However, one participant stressed that the overarching goal should be toward a culture shift at all levels of the organization—“culture” being defined as behaviors that individuals engage in even when no one is looking.
Another participant noted that it is critical that Air Force uniformed personnel in the field participate in shaping the specifics of strategies to reduce energy use, and that procedures not be simply dictated from headquarters by people who have no experience in the field. Several speakers noted that two possible paradigms for how to integrate energy awareness into corporate-wide thinking are illustrated by efforts already made to promote pollution prevention and safety. Air Force instructions mention pollution prevention and safety, but not energy use. There could be a reward system for personnel in the field who come up with good ideas for saving energy. Several participants noted that considering improvements in energy management as a criterion for promotion for facility managers could also help drive cultural change.
Culture change needs to occur throughout the organization, and must be supported by the upper level of leadership. Blindly working toward achieving metrics and milestones does not necessarily meet the underlying goals.
Many participants expressed the idea that it is important for individuals in the Air Force at all levels of management and responsibility to be aware of the importance of addressing energy-security/-surety and costs, and that, at times, improving efficiency and reliability can result in enhancement to the mission. Some participants suggested that having mandated energy training throughout the Air Force might be a driver toward greater understanding of the problem. Classes in energy-related topics are already offered by the Air Education and Training Command. Another suggestion was to have energy efficiency written into the job description (and performance evaluation) of process managers and that they receive appropriate training. Yet another suggestion discussed by participants was a graduate degree or certificate that could be offered by the Air Force Academy or the Air Force Institute of Technology with a focus on energy.
It was demonstrated in several presentations that the acquisition of new technologies and infrastructure provides a great opportunity for improvements in energy efficiency and long-term energy reduction. A key target for improving energy awareness is the acquisition community, to get life-cycle energy use to be one of the criteria on which acquisition decisions are made. One participant noted that an example target group is the Logistics Officers Association. There is no codified knowledge base for process equipment at depots. An example is the lack of maintenance manuals written to support test facilities at Arnold AFB. One suggestion was that progress might be made through working with the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals.
Several speakers noted that the civil engineering community has shown the Air Force that energy-reduction projects are a good investment—typically returning $2 in savings for every $1 invested. One speaker noted that specific processes such as painting offer opportunities for improvement (as the General Motors presentation showed), but there is no budget for it. The CE community typically does not own either the industrial process or the budget. Participants noted that other processes that are good candidates for efficiencies are those that generate or transfer heat or involve rotating equipment. One participant noted several potential areas for future Air Force investment:
• Work process design and associated training and audit protocols focused on business effective energy management.
• Engineering evaluation of rotating and heat exchange equipment to establish life cycle energy use and operating costs.
• Formal assessments of current operations vs. standard protocol to identify short and long-term improvement actions and projects (see Appendix E for possible areas to consider).