The Sustainable Infrastructure Assessments Project
Audit teams delivered valuable data by focusing on energy reduction and mission and sustainability requirements during a recent initiative at six U.S. Air Force bases.
By Annika Moman, CEM, and Kirk E. Rabius, P.E., M.SAME
Asset and energy managers are feeling the effects of doing more with less. Identifying multi-million dollar sustainment, restoration and modernization (SRM) requirements; developing long-range capital planning forecasts; implementing energy reduction measures; and updating real property records—these are just some of the key initiatives on their plate. Understanding this challenge, the U.S. Air Force created the Sustainable Infrastructure Assessments (SIA) Project to collect this influential data and prioritize needs for better decisions. As a result of the SIA effort, the Air Force is establishing a credible backlog of SRM dollars and identifying an actionable list of energy projects.
The goal of the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency (AFCESA) was to develop SIAs for six Air Force Bases located in the eastern United States: Avon Park AFR, Fla.; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Moody AFB, Ga.; New Boston AFS, N.H.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
Audit teams covered more than 8.5-millon-ft² across 450 buildings—ranging from retail and entertainment spots to secure communications facilities—in order to assess the facility conditions and space utilization, and to evaluate lighting, water, HVAC and process energy systems. The selected buildings represented approximately 70 percent of the total energy usage on the base.
Audit teams performed approximately 8.5-million-ft² of energy audits and facility condition assessments at six U.S. Air Force bases in the eastern United States. The valuable data will help the service focus on meeting energy reduction and sustainability requirements. Photo courtesy of AECOM
Each SIA required the inventory and condition assessment of component-level data of all buildings. The condition assessment was completed using a “direct rating” method for the exterior building systems (mainly the roof, façade, windows and doors), and a “distress rating” method for the interior building systems (such as mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, lighting and interior finishes). The “distress rating” method required detailed documentation of the distress conditions examined by a professional engineer or architect. The Air Force also chose to use BUILDER to store data obtained from real property inventory and facility condition assessments. With this data, the project team used the BUILDER asset management system, which is a scalable, enterprise-level, web-based asset management application for building lifecycle management. BUILDER generates detailed facility condition indexes (FCIs) and produces Future-Year Defense Plan plus two-years (FYDP+2) financial forecasts of the expenditures needed to repair and maintain the facilities that were assessed.
SIAs also included the investigation of:
- base utility systems and utility rates;
- water supply systems and associated costs;
- cost-effective water and energy conservation opportunities;
- technical and economic analysis to demonstrate Energy Conservation Opportunity feasibility.
This information was then used to prepare DD Form 1391 "Military Construction Data Sheet" to identify key cost and scope information required to program Department of Defense funds. Upon completion of the SIA audits, each installation received a comprehensive list of SRM requirements projected over the next five years, along with an in-depth list of actionable energy projects supported by detailed DD Form 1391s. It is important to note that SRM requirements are not intended to override the existing requirements already programmed, but rather to complement them.
Funding to meet these requirements, however, may not be available. The installations must prioritize the project listing and ensure mission critical facilities remain in good condition while progressing to meet energy and water conservation goals. Yet these two tasks are not separate. In fact, intertwining them can make the daunting task of accomplishing more work with little appropriated funds more manageable.
The results of the SIA effort have produced SRM requirements and energy savings potential for the Air Force. Energy projects are limited to those with a savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) greater than one, using the Energy Conservation Investment Program Building Life Cycle Cost (ECIP BLCC) calculation. A sample base from those audited was chosen to illustrate the opportunities found. The investment grade projects (IGPs) are shown in Figure 1. (The projects were prioritized by simple payback (SPB) rather than SIR, as SPB reflects potential cash flow more directly than SIR.)
The positive impact of two proposed Energy Conservation Opportunities are identified in Figure 1. The first Energy Conservation Opportunity involves operations and maintenance (O&M) savings. The second is a bundling of 11 facility retrofit projects. When combined, these represent an overall cumulative savings of $8 million to the base. Keeping the overall simple payback to 15 years or less will allow for financing and required soft costs over a 20-year term.
Figure 2, meanwhile, shows the output report for SRM requirements identified for buildings at a sample base. The priority rating comes from the U.S. Army’s Construction and Engineering Research Lab (CERL) BUILDER software program, with “Priority 100” being the highest (most urgent) priority.
The FYDP Requirements Report is calculated annually. It identifies facility system components that fall below (or are predicted to fall below) an operational performance threshold over the next five-year term. Facility system lifecycle data is used by BUILDER to identify the necessary building system corrective work actions that are required to improve the operational performance of these systems. For example, for FY2012, Figure 2 shows approximately $4 million in recommended “Priority 100” facility system investments that are required to improve the overall system performance. If roughly $5 million is invested in FY2012 (including “Priorities 40-80”), then related downstream investment recommendations for FY2013–2016 can also be positively impacted, thus deferring maintenance in outlying years. It is important to note that the FYDP Requirements Report does not include the cost for general or recurring maintenance, project management oversight, or obsolescence-based replacements for modernization, which may be additional components of the 2 to 4 percent annual work forecasts.
For certain facilities, it makes sense to combine IGP recommendations with SRM requirements simultaneously because this can lead to enhanced efficiencies, allowing for programming and construction to be completed at one time and removing duplicate costs. The additional benefit could mean an even greater cash flow over the 15-year term. That could translate to the addition of more IGPs or SRM projects.
This type of analysis and prioritization can be performed to a greater degree, and have more of an impact, by leveraging data from multiple facility assessments. It is essential to emphasize other mission-driven criticalities, or combine installations at regional levels to optimize the approach and leverage the financial savings potential at a greater number of bases. The key is to view the energy conservation potential and the maintenance and repair projects together, and to build projects that leverage the revenue stream from energy projects and private financing to bridge the funding shortfall gap. Not all requirements can be met with energy savings. Identifying them first, before applying precious appropriated funds, will stretch the dollars farther.
There are numerous existing contract vehicles that can be used for implementing performance-based, and/or privately financed projects. These include the Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers energy savings performance contracts (ESPC), and the utility energy savings contract (UESC) offered by participating utilities under basic ordering agreements already in place with the installations. ESPC vehicles have pre-screened Energy Services Companies. Many utilities have pre-qualified Energy Services Companies as well. As with any project, selection of the right partner is critical. If done well, the partnership can result in significant benefits to the installation. Asset and energy managers are then positioned to do more with less, while still meeting mission and sustainability requirements.