AFCEC facilitating millions in energy savings worldwide

  • Published
  • By J. Brian Garmon
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
A tool with potential to save millions of dollars in annual energy expenditures is within reach for Air Force bases worldwide.

Energy savings performance contracts, or ESPCs, are partnerships between federal agencies and energy service companies that provide energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs to the government. Since 2014, the Air Force has awarded four task orders and have 25 other projects in various stages of acquisition, all within the continental United States, or CONUS.

This year, the Air Force has taken ESPCs to the global stage. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center has seven projects currently in development in countries around the world, including Germany, Japan and South Korea. These projects present opportunities that could result in massive energy savings for the bases, with annual estimates on current projects ranging between 20 and 50 percent.

ESPC projects make major improvements to the bases’ energy infrastructure, and can include items such as: installing renewable or other high-efficiency sources of power, decentralizing utility infrastructure to increase efficiency, retrofitting existing exterior lighting with new high-efficiency fixtures and addressing climate issues in buildings identified by the base.

One overseas ESPC that AFCEC is currently developing is located at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Upon completion, the Air Force estimates that it will save approximately $3 million per year in energy expenditures through a new combined heat and power plant, boiler plant improvements, lighting improvements, distributed generation and other equipment upgrades.

In some cases, the complexities of working on global projects present a unique set of challenges. As a partner in the ESPC process, AFCEC is able to work with local bases and host nations to provide assistance in navigating issues that may arise along the way.

“The biggest hurdle for Spangdahlem Air Base was understanding and working with host nation requirements for construction approval and German labor, said Morgan Hurst, AFCEC professional engineer. “No matter what challenge is presented in an ESPC project at an (overseas) Air Force base, AFCEC is committed to supporting the base in awarding an ESPC task order.”

Success in developing these projects is directly linked to engagement by base energy managers and resource efficiency managers. These individuals not only help to identify the potential savings that can be accomplished before implementation, but also play a role in discovering issues that can play out as the contract process unfolds.

When asked how the ESPC program impacted his base, Eric Reeves, the resource efficiency manager at Spangdahlem, said, "Having the ESPC program to help us think big and to implement costly projects otherwise unattainable with the current funding climate is tremendous, both for the base and the Air Force!"

AFCEC is looking for base-level partners around the world who want to bring energy cost-savings to their corner of the globe.

“With a new simplified process that significantly reduces the upfront workload on the base energy manager, it’s easy to get started. I look forward to the opportunity to educate installations on the ESPC process, and provide assistance with developing holistically approached projects that maximize energy savings,” said Mike Ringenberg, program manager for AFCEC’s Energy Program Development Division.