By Edward Wojtowicz
Federal legislation and executive orders have brought efforts to enhance energy efficiency and resiliency to the forefront, imposing requirements to reduce foreign oil dependence and carbon emissions while improving cost predictability and system redundancy. Government agencies have opportunities to enhance their energy management while modernizing their facilities for broader benefits. But making changes that have a lasting impact can be challenging where funds are already tight—especially when long-standing facilities and equipment are often contributing to inefficiencies.
Improving infrastructure and driving long-term savings requires a clear, sustainable path. Fortunately, models are emerging through work done at military bases including Tinker AFB, Okla., that exemplify how to implement projects that have measurable positive effects on facility efficiency, as well has how to transform an installation and the behaviors of those within it for improved mission assurance.
Established in 1941, Tinker AFB is home to the Oklahoma City-Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC), the largest of three aircraft maintenance and repair complexes operated by Air Force Materiel Command. OC-ALC employs more than 10,200 military personnel and civilians, and includes operations spread across 60 facilities that service and repair aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve.
Tinker AFB was once the largest single-site energy consumer in the Air Force, with OC-ALC accounting for nearly 70 percent of the base’s total energy consumption due to its energy-intensive processes. In recent years, aging infrastructure of the 75-year-old installation has created even more operational and efficiency challenges, driving up consumption. Resource constraints have made addressing these issues difficult.
To confront these challenges and begin to establish an installation of the future, leadership sought to modernize facility infrastructure to help enhance productivity and decrease energy costs, while also making the base more competitive with the private sector for aircraft maintenance work.
Since 2006, Tinker has implemented infrastructure and equipment upgrades through several Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) in partnership with Honeywell. These contracting vehicles help fund upgrades using annual energy and operational savings generated by the more efficient systems and processes. Honeywell guarantees the savings, which eliminates the need for upfront capital investment by the Air Force or the use of taxpayer dollars.
Through ESPCs, Tinker has been able to tackle more comprehensive upgrades and modernization efforts that otherwise would be difficult to complete. The most recent program began in 2016, when Honeywell and the Air Force entered into a 25-year, $649 million facility modernization project to upgrade infrastructure and industrial processes at OC-ALC production facilities. The project, which is ongoing, aims to improve the overall base operating efficiency, enhance mission assurance, and reduce energy consumption by at least 23 percent, saving approximately $20.5 million in annual energy and operational costs.
Specific work includes modernizing manufacturing lines to eliminate wasted ventilation energy and increase worker safety; updating wastewater treatment systems to enhance equipment control and alarm monitoring; incorporating more efficient LED lighting; and installing chillers to help increase cooling system reliability. There are also efforts to upgrade paint booths for painting large military aircraft assets, which also will lessen the overall environmental impact of the entire painting process.
On a broader scale, Honeywell has upgraded building controls and implemented a base-wide building management system, the Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI), which integrates building systems and functions, including HVAC and industrial plant equipment and mechanical systems, giving operators a more holistic view of facility-wide operations. Additionally, EBI enables a more integrated approach to overall building equipment and process management. Honeywell implemented smart meters to monitor and track building energy consumption and help keep usage aligned with parameters and expectations.
CULTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY
Tinker’s comprehensive approach to energy management has helped instill cultural and behavior changes to keep processes consistent, repeatable, and impactful. This underscores the base’s leadership and commitment to improving energy efficiency and lowering operational costs.
OC-ALC recently became the first organization in the federal government to receive ISO 50001 certification, an international energy management standard that fosters an energy awareness culture and a process of continuous energy improvement. In fact, the ESPC-enabled infrastructure improvements and organizational commitment to the requirements outlined for ISO 50001 certification have helped set Tinker on a path to continued process improvements and efficiency. The efforts are also helping meet established goals through ongoing measurement and reporting—making the processes repeatable and holding appropriate personnel accountable. OC-ALC leadership issued an organization-specific energy policy, and provided employees with energy awareness training. Representatives from different business units, as well as facilities and energy management personnel, meet weekly to review energy usage data for their respective areas. These meetings spur dialogue and promote engagement and awareness to drive more efficient processes.
Meanwhile, the technology improvements, which provide more refined performance data on energy consumption, help reinforce more efficient behaviors. For example, by leveraging the EBI platform, base personnel can better track gas consumption and other energy-related metrics for facilities and equipment. This helps keep watch over energy performance, both in real time and over longer periods in order to uncover and address issues before they become major problems.
Infrastructure upgrades have helped enhance process quality, employee performance, and mission assurance. In addition to driving down energy costs, for instance, more energy-efficient lighting has helped increase the quality of workmanship by improving the illumination of production areas.
Tinker also has leveraged its integrated foundation for other areas beyond building functions. The data generated from the building technologies is easily transferable for use in other base-wide business systems. EBI collects data on runtime, vibration and filter pressure for plasma spray booths and then copies that data into the work management system used for industrial plant maintenance. This helps enable both predictive and condition-based maintenance of industrial plant equipment, which can increase equipment availability and reduce overall maintenance costs.
BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE
The most recent ESPC project is set to save the Air Force more than $649 million in energy and operational costs over the life of the contract. Already, the improvements are helping put Tinker ahead of its energy consumption reduction goal of 25 percent by 2025, with a more than 15 percent drop in the first three years alone. Notably, while the base was once the largest single-site energy consumer in the Air Force, it dropped to the fourth spot by the end of 2018, thanks to the energy-saving efforts and improvements.
Tinker AFB has set itself on a path to improving energy resilience, efficiency, and security. Together, the advantages created through ESPCs and the motivation spurred by ISO 50001 have helped establish a blueprint for the base to continue to scale and evolve—bridging its legacy with forward-looking efforts that are setting the benchmark for what the installation of the future will be.
Edward Wojtowicz is Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Energy Solutions Group; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article first published in the March-April 2019 Issue of The Military Engineer.