Energy Vision 2035 for Navy Region Midwest

A long-range integrated project analysis and execution strategy will maximize the energy savings opportunity at three U.S. Navy installations.
By Eric Nyenhuis, P.E., and Andrea Sweigart, AICP

Energy Vision Process Diagram Images courtesy AECOM

As today’s military engineers face the reality of having to do more with less—especially in the areas of budget, technology and personnel—there is recognition within Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) that part of the solution to these challenges lies in informed investment, and in buildings that work smarter and more efficiently.

Partnering with NAVFAC Atlantic and Navy Region Midwest, AECOM facilitated the development of Energy Vision 2035. Covering 17-million-ft² over three bases (Naval Base Great Lakes, Ill., Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane, Ind., and NSA Mid-South, Tenn.), the outlook identified an optimal mix of energy efficiency, renewable and industrial control systems (ICS) infrastructure required to ensure the region achieves key energy and renewable targets. The plan resulted in an integrated project list by building for the region as well as programming documents for ICS expansion and energy project, which, together, provide a positive savings-to-investment ratio.

RESEARCHING A VISION

The Energy Vision 2035 process followed three steps: 1) data analysis and modeling; 2) scenario and ICS alternatives generation; and 3) implementation strategy. The data analysis and modeling effort began by collecting baseline facility and energy data, and conducting site visits and stakeholder interviews to gain an understanding of existing equipment, control systems and past energy patterns. Out of this investigation came the establishment of facility prototype models to represent categories of typical facilities in the region. These “facility categories” included office, industrial and warehouse buildings along with eight others. Each facility in the region was assigned to one of these 11 building categories based on its predominant use.

This approach tailored the process to accurately reflect the Midwest Region’s facility portfolio. It also provided valuable flexibility to incorporate, with reasonable accuracy, programmed projects along with multiple planning scenarios. Installation and regional level performance indicators, such as energy use and intensity, were documented. Additionally, drivers and potential energy conservation measures were identified and evaluated as a precursor for scenario development. As part of this process, the existing level of industrial controls infrastructure—including physical infrastructure, hardware, software and technical staff resources—was established.

Energy modeling, calibrated to regional facility prototypes, was used to simulate the effects of energy conservation measures and other strategies for each building prototype. AECOM’s custom energy simulation tool called SSIM™ afforded each installation the ability to define a MILCON program and develop three scenarios that contemplated conservative, moderate and aggressive levels of energy use and intensity reduction, renewable strategies, smart energy infrastructure, total investment levels and payback periods. Additionally, walk downs at each base allowed for the identification and qualification of installation-specific large-scale energy supply opportunities. Among the alternatives considered were biomass power production; solar photovoltaic; district cooling utilizing an adjacent lake; and reinstating nearby state-owned hydroelectric resources. These “big ideas” were discussed and select concepts were incorporated into the planning process.

ESTABLISHING A VISION

With a target list of projects (including building specific energy conservation measures, renewable technologies, planned MILCON and the selected big ideas) AECOM then brought all together into a single planning interface, or “game board.” This game board gave regional leadership the flexibility to choose whether to incorporate specific programmatic elements and, if so, when and to what extent. Initially, each base used the SSIM™ gaming board to prepare three scenarios.

The scenarios then were evaluated and assessed for region-wide implications by rolling up various combinations into a comprehensive regional scenario. The goal of the optimized regional scenario was to prioritize projects from a regional perspective rather than a site-level perspective. The regional facility prioritization approach selected different, and often, fewer facilities and was used to select projects that most effectively contribute to regional goals and strategies. The scenarios step also included the exploration of options specifically to implement the Navy Smart Energy vision for ICS regionally. This vision brings building automation systems together on the same network with base utility electrical, water and sewer systems. This advanced ICS network will support smarter buildings capable of greater levels efficiency and control.

Facility, infrastructure and network components for each alternative were defined and costs were identified for:

  • establishing a regional ICS control center and control rooms at each site;
  • achieving a fully functioning and secure fiber optic network;
  • expanding supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)to include utilities and electrical operations;
  • upgrading building direct digital controls (DDC) and adding new DDC; and
  • implementing DDC building gateways to meet Fleet Cyber Command requirements.

This approach also will close a communication gap for Naval Station Great Lakes, which currently relies upon dial-up access for building-to-building communication, as well as for NSA Crane, where there is little or no centralized DDC network. With the new network, building operators and controllers will have access to real-time building power demand for use in peak-demand control. The network can even be accessed from the regional operations centers and emergency operations centers for improved levels of situational awareness and power management during critical events.

Through a series of workshops, the Midwest Region defined a preferred ICS option that improves 210 facilities across its territory. These facilities accounted for 84 percent of the energy use associated with the 691 buildings addressed in the study.

Faced with managing diverse missions, clean energy mandates and rapidly advancing smart building technologies, Navy Region Midwest needed a vision and path forward to address these challenges. What level of investment will be required over a 25-year horizon? How should this investment be prioritized and executed? Energy Vision 2035 defines regional performance targets, and ultimately, reveals a recommended program that projects a 66 percent reduction in energy intensity compared to the 2003 baseline, a 7 percent renewable component and a project capital investment of $185.4 million, which has an estimated payback of less than eight years.

EXECUTING A VISION

The plan works as a guide for the region to meet or exceed the federal energy mandates through 12 strategies and an integrated priority list that identifies all conservation projects and other energy related investments, including ICS. Because ICS components alone do not render a favorable energy return on investment, however, an implementation strategy has been defined that bundles specific energy conservation measures with ICS and is projected to save more than 400,000-MBTU of energy per year. The 12 strategies cover a coordinated range of actions.

  • Define minimum building performance standards based upon building types (new construction and renovation).
  • Implement a region-wide building retro-commissioning program.
  • Evaluate decentralization of steam plants serving NSA Crane.
  • Implement demand control strategies.
  • Pursue renewable energy generation to enhance installation energy security.
  • Establish a smart energy network and management capability across the region.
  • Establish standardized analytics, metrics, monitoring and evaluation processes.
  • Optimize the use of funding streams, leveraging a mix of Navy and third-party funding sources.
  • Integrate both energy and planning considerations early on into energy project development and master planning activities.
  • Provide education and awareness to drive energy efficiency at command and functional organizational levels.
  • Develop technical staff capabilities required to operate and fully leverage enhanced energy network infrastructure.
  • Implement periodic Energy Vision 2035 review and refinement.

Being asked to do more with less often leads to valuable innovation—and superior solutions to addressing problems. Answering the question of how to reduce energy consumption on military bases may not be solved by one program alone. But Energy Vision 2035 is a large step in the right direction.


Eric Nyenhuis, P.E., is Senior Development Engineer, and Andrea Sweigart, AICP, is Associate Principle, AECOM. They can be reached at 858-947-7153, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; and 703-739-4755, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , respectively.