•  Carrier

Eating the Energy Elephant

Military installations will find greater success meeting their energy goals by approaching challenges one solution at a time.
By Col. Nello L. Tortora, PMP, F.SAME, USA (Ret.), and Lawson “Stan” Lee, P.E.

The UMCS Program supported a Fort Bliss Dining Facility solar project, now powered by 574 polycrystalline solar panels: 214 on the roof and 360 mounted on a carport structure. U.S. Army photo

The best analogy we hear for tackling the energy challenges installations face is that it is like trying to eat an elephant. It is best to take one bite at a time. Experience shows it is ideal to have a plan on how to eat the elephant that leverages all available resources.

There are, however, many mandates and funding is limited. Base commanders and public works directors will no doubt be challenged to meet their energy demand reduction and renewable energy goals. The programs of the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville (HNC) and its support to the Army Energy Campaign Plan’s five goals can help solve the challenges:

  • Eliminate energy waste in existing facilities.
  • Increase energy efficiency in new construction and renovations.
  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Conserve water resources.
  • Improve energy security.

“Know the enemy and know yourself.”The Energy Engineering and Analysis Program (EEAP) analyzes energy and water use on Department of Defense (DOD) installations; identifies and evaluates energy conservation measures (ECMs); and provides a plan that prioritizes projects in order to meet energy goals. Depending on the effort requested, EEAP is equivalent to a Level I, II or III ASHRAE Energy Audit. EEAP leverages the expertise and capabilities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Energy National Laboratories and contracted subject matter experts. ECMs are evaluated for feasibility and analyzed by savings-to-investment ratio, energy saved, technology required and implementation risks. A systematic approach results in a Capital Investment Strategy for the installation that prioritizes projects, deciphers funding strategies for each, provides scope for third-party

financed projects such as Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) and investment grade DD Form 1391s for the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP). In FY 2011, for example, nine ECIP projects were identified and subsequently awarded. These will result in 97,000-MBtu annual savings. The focus of FY2012 was to complete expanded EEAPs for the Army-designated Net Zero installations. The expanded analysis includes opportunities for renewable energy; net zero energy, waste, and water; microgrid; and energy security. EEAPs results are maintained on Engineering Knowledge Online

“Get rid of what you don’t need.” The Facilities Reduction Program (FRP) eliminates excess facilities and structures to reduce fixed installation costs and achieve energy savings. This program assists installations in prioritizing removal candidates, preparing statutorily required documentation and removing excess facilities. HNC implemented an enterprise approach for demolition that included established regional contract vehicles with expert demolition contractors. It incorporated industry best practices and required maximum salvage value, which subsequently reduced removal cost per ft-².

Since 2004, FRP has reduced the average cost of removal ft-² by 56 percent. The program’s landfill diversion average is 72 percent by weight, well above the 50 percent required by DOD where economically feasible. The program has removed approximately 15 million-ft² for the Army at a cost of $164 million. The cumulative estimated energy and maintenance savings is some $342 million. The simple return-on-investment is two years for most facility removal projects.

Bundling of shorter with longer payback ECMs makes implementation of longer payback ECMs possible under ESPC. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center

The web-based FRP Best Practices Toolbox (*https://eko.usace.army.mil/frptoolbox/index.cfm) provides a series of benefits: standardized regionally sensitive cost estimating tool, economically feasible waste stream diversion percentages, recommended best demolition practices, and an electronic technical library.

“Don’t pay more than necessary.” The Commercial Utilities Program (CUP) ensures Army installations enjoy the lowest available rate for reliable utility services. CUP provides technical assistance in utility contract procurement and negotiations, supports utility rate increase litigation (rate intervention) and finds other ways to reduce costs. For less than $1 million per year, the program saved the Army an average of $7.4 million annually over the past five years. The CUP is expanding to include utility procurement optimization studies to determine utility rate restructuring opportunities enabled by on-site renewable energy generation or other generation means. For example, an optimization study will determine if an installation can qualify for lower or interruptible rates, what investments would be required to ensure continued mission readiness, and what is the economic analysis needed to support a path-forward decision.

“Hire an expert.” The Resource Efficiency Manager (REM) Program hires expert energy consultants for Army garrisons to help installations meet energy goals by finding, developing and employing energy conservation measures and renewable energy projects. REMs have identified energy savings opportunities that yield as much as 10 times their annual salary cost, and they provide valuable assistance in using all energy project funding streams. The REM is contractually required to identify savings at least equal to the cost of the REM’s salary. In the past two years, REMs achieved $20 million in annual realized savings from executed projects and initiatives.

“You can't manage what you don't measure.” The Army Metering Program is installing advanced electric, gas and steam meters at all installations. These meters will help influence occupants to conserve energy and water; identify facilities for corrective action; track the effectiveness of energy conservation projects; monitor energy use trends; and alert managers of abnormalities and sources of energy waste.

The challenge in implementing the metering program has been certifying the value of meter network configurations on each installation. HNC is working closely with the Army’s Information Assurance and Network Security organizations to certify the meter data networks at each installation are sufficiently hardened against unauthorized access and cyber attack. Once implemented, energy managers will use the new Army Meter Data Management System (MDMS)—an enterprise energy information system—for the collection, analysis and display of energy data at the installation, regional and headquarters levels. MDMS will collect meter data (electric, gas, steam and water) and provide a comprehensive display of the energy footprint. The data will be used to develop energy baselines for the installation, identify system problems, validate energy savings, utility rate review, tenant billing and energy reporting.

“Planning is everything.” The Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) improves energy efficiency of DOD facilities while reducing associated utility energy and non-energy related costs. HNC’s ECIP Validation Program provides planning and technical support to the Army by validating DD Form 1391s in coordination with all stakeholders to ensure the best projects are competing for limited funds.

More than 200 potential projects were reviewed and validated in FY2012 to implement the first Army ECIP Future Years Defense Program. Projects now have less risk of exceeding programmed budget and are higher quality for delivering energy savings. HNC also awarded national design-build multiple award contracts for use in ECIP and other energy missions. These contracts enable faster awards to highly qualified sources and help the Army meet budget execution metrics.

By taking a holistic approach to their ESPC, Fort Buchanan will achieve their energy goals two years early. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center

“Use controls to reduce energy and labor costs.” The Utility Monitoring and Control Systems Program and Center of Expertise supports installations by designing, procuring and overseeing the installation of complex monitoring and control systems to include building automation, supervisory control and data acquisition, advanced metering, fire alarm, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. This program has grown significantly as installations have taken advantage of modern technology to improve energy efficiency and renovate facilities to meet safety standards. The program grew significantly over the past several years as installations aspired to improve their energy efficiency performance. Last year, 785 contracts were awarded for more than $250 million in projects.

“Use other people’s money.” ESPCs deliver energy- and water-reducing capital improvements that installations otherwise cannot fund through existing operating funds. An energy service company (ESCO) provides the capital and expertise to implement comprehensive energy and water efficiency improvements and maintains them in exchange for a portion of the generated savings. The ESCO guarantees the improvements will generate sufficient savings to pay for the project over the term of the contract, which cannot exceed 25 years. The ESPC incorporates a process for measuring and verifying the annual savings so that the payment to the ESCO never exceeds the actual savings. A utility energy service contract (UESC) also can be used. A UESC is similar to an ESPC, except that the local utility provides the capital improvements for energy savings. The utility company’s investment is recuperated from charges added to the installation’s utility bill spread out over 10 years.

In FY2012, HNC awarded 16 ESPCs with a total capital investment of $208 million and an estimated 696,000-MBtu in annual energy savings. The Army, HNC and ESCOs are focused on increasing energy savings through the ESPC program. Every installation has unique circumstances—but overall, installations benefit from a holistic rather than a building-by-building approach. For example, the ESPC project at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, incorporated 15 ECMs from across the installation, bundling long-term payback ECMs with short-term payback ECMs to generate the most energy savings. Fort Buchanan is expected to reach its energy goals two years early and generate 105,003-MBtu annual savings. The Fort Buchannan ESPC even included wind power generation, which could not be financed on its own due to the long payback term.

An ESPC at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., included a 4.5-MW solar photovoltaic system that will help the installation achieve 10.8 percent renewable energy use in FY2013. U.S. Army photo

If all short-term payback ECMs are funded with appropriated funds, it will be difficult to achieve an economically viable ESPC with only long-term payback ECMs. If you include only short-term payback ECMs in an ESPC, you will have a very viable project. However, you now have to find appropriated funding to pay for the long-term payback ECMs to realize enough energy savings to meet your goals. For most installations, eating the energy elephant requires use of both ESPCs and annual appropriations to meet energy goals. The key is to have a strategy that leverages both most effectively.

Another approach that may generate energy savings is combined funding. Appropriated funds can be used to buy down the financed capital cost of ESPCs to incorporate more long-term payback ECMs or renewables. Buying down the upfront costs will reduce the payback period and make large projects more viable.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., took this strategy a step further by including a sustainment restoration and maintenance (SRM) project as part of an ESPC. By combining a $1.8 million SRM project with more than $400,000 in additional annual energy savings generated by the proposed improvements, the ESPC scope and size increased by an additional $3.4 million—delivering funding for more ECMs and facility improvements. Applying this synergistic strategy, the ESPC expanded from $26.6 million to nearly $30 million without altering the overall contract term. Moreover, the combined project generates an additional 13,708-MBtu annual energy savings over executing each project separately.

Renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPA) also can help move installations closer toward Net Zero and energy security. With a PPA, a contractor installs a renewable energy system on installation property under an agreement that the installation will purchase the power generated by the system for up to a 30-year term. The contractor is responsible for developing, financing, designing, building, operating, owning and maintaining the generation assets.

In support of the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, HNC is in the process of selecting contractors for the new renewable and alternative energy power production contract for use in competing the development of large-scale renewable energy on DOD property. This multiple award task order contract (MATOC) will give DOD the capability, using PPAs, to purchase up to $7 billion in energy from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal sources. Large-scale renewable energy development is not practical for all installations; but many installations can enhance their energy security by having renewable energy that can operate parallel with, or in lieu of, the electric grid. MATOCs can also be used for smaller-scale PPAs.


HNC is a major subordinate command of USACE and has provided support for Army energy programs for more than 25 years—energy programs that are aiming to reduce usage on military installations, reduce demand in theater, and explore greater development and implementation of “green” energy alternatives. Each program seeks to provide customers with high quality, reliable and cost-effective solutions by leveraging the engineering expertise, program and project management solutions, and expert and efficient contract vehicles available from throughout USACE.

Meeting our nation’s energy and sustainability goals is no easy task…but progress is being made.

Col. Nello L. Tortora, PMP, F.SAME, USA (Ret.), is Director, Federal Programs, Energy Services, Southland Industries; 256-425-2440, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He was Commander, U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center, Huntsville, July 2009–July 2012.

Lawson “Stan” Lee, P.E., is Energy Program Manager, U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center, Huntsville; 256-895-5515, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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