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USAFA energy savings performance contractor selected

Air Force Academy Chapel in the winter (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

An F-16 Fight Falcon is parked outside the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel at Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the winter. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy released a down selection decision document identifying Noresco as the energy services company to provide services for an energy savings performance contract at the U.S. Air Force Academy. (US Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Defense Logistics Agency Energy recently released a down selection decision document identifying Noresco as the energy services company, or ESCO, chosen to provide services for an energy savings performance contract at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado.

The purpose of the ESPC is to discover and implement energy conservation measures for facilities across the USAFA installation. This process begins with Noresco performing a preliminary assessment, or PA, to provide sufficient information for the Air Force to make a decision on proceeding with the ESPC project.  The PA is based on a brief, walk-through audit of the facilities plus a review of site energy and facility data provided by the Academy.  The PA will provide a narrative summary, description of likely energy conservation measures, estimates of proposed energy and cost savings, and other information for decision-making.

What sets this ESPC project apart from other Air Force installations is USAFA's status as an educational institution and historic site.

"Selection of the ESCO focused primarily on a review of the contractor's demonstrated experience executing an ESPC for a college campus," said Steve McLellan, energy program manager at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the agency responsible for managing the Air Force's ESPCs. "We're excited to get this project underway and for the anticipated opportunities for significant energy savings for the Academy."

Buildings in the cadet area include the cadet chapel, two dormitories and several other academic, dining, entertainment, administration and sports facilities.

"The Academy has about 6.4 million square feet of facility space, and 4.5 million of that is in the cadet area, so that's a major target of opportunity," said Russell Hume, mechanical engineer at USAFA. "Also, 25 percent of that, 1.6 million square feet, is concentrated in two of our academic buildings, Fairchild Hall and the Consolidated Education and Training Facility."

Even for a university, USAFA's buildings and academic schedule are unique, Hume said.

"Our facilities are unusual," he said. "For instance, our athletic complex has an ice rink and basketball arena with essentially no physical separation between them, and USAFA has the largest dining facility in the Air Force, which feeds 4,000 cadets three times a day - and they all eat at the same time. These types of facilities present challenges. Also, we don't take the normal summer break that most universities do. Cadets are on campus most of the year, with very small breaks, so it is difficult to close buildings for renovations."

In addition to the Academy facilities themselves, the surrounding area also significantly impacted the selection of which company to use.

"The majority of the cadet area is in the National Historic Landmark District, so the buildings' features, and even the view-shed, are protected," Hume said. "Those will be contributing factors when considering the technologies and applications that can be used for this project. However, the ESCOs are clever and creative, so we're looking to their expertise to find valuable energy conservation measures for this project."

The need for innovation and industry best practices is why Academy officials turned to ESPCs to gain energy efficiencies, Hume said.

Under the ESPC model, ESCOs compete to finance, design, construct and manage energy projects, and maintain the systems long-term. ESPCs range from 10 years to a maximum of 25 years, with the Air Force paying the ESCO back over the term of the contract from cost savings garnered by the energy efficiency improvements they make.

The USAFA ESPC is a chance to gain significant energy savings, even considering the academy's distinctive mission and architecture, said Kirk Weiss, USAFA energy manager.

"The ESPC contract model brings in several structural components that make it pretty attractive," Weiss said. "The incentives, accountability and financing all make this a great way to achieve our energy goals. And there is plenty of opportunity within these buildings, even setting aside the exterior skins, so we're excited."