Efficiency team “saves” Coast Guard units throughout Hawaii

Story by Seaman Stanley Guzman, Air Station Barbers Point

Coast Guard units throughout Hawaii are taking proactive measures to reduce energy costs and consumption. The Coast Guard understands that inefficiency takes money away from missions and the tax payers’ dollars. With this understanding in mind, 11 civilian and military technicians from Base Support Unit (BSU), Honolulu formed the Sustainability Implementation Team to reduce the Coast Guard’s energy footprint here.

“Every dollar saved from our electric bill will be one more dollar used to help our units perform more efficiently,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cesar Acosta, commanding officer of Civil Engineering Unit, Honolulu.

The team employed two energy-saving approaches: using technology to reduce consumption and promoting sustainability awareness among the crew to change the culture of usage.

Some of the most effective measures included: retrofitting incandescent and high pressure sodium lighting to more efficient running fluorescent and light emitting diode (LED) fixtures; switching to Energy Star appliances; installing urinals that require 88 percent less water; and growing plants that do not require an irrigation system.

“The team’s accomplishments in the past year and a half saved the Coast Guard an annual recurring savings of over $120,000,” said Lt. Ryan Murphy, an industrial manager and a team member. “In one of the larger lighting retrofit projects, the team focused on exterior lighting and was able to reduce the electrical load of the entire base by 80 percent through high efficiency lighting retrofits and delamping areas with too much streetlight. This project alone saved the Coast Guard $40,000 a year in electricity (costs).”

The team is also reaching out to other units in Hawaii. During a recent energy retrofit trip to Station Maui, the team found ways to reduce the station’s electricity costs by 20 percent by upgrading the air conditioning system and installing occupancy sensors to turn off the lights when rooms are unoccupied.

The team is also pursuing similar cost-saving measures at Station Kauai and Air Station Barbers Point.

Acosta said there are also plans to make the Diamond Head Representational Facility, which also serves as the 14th Coast Guard District commander’s quarters, a “net zero” facility, meaning the property will produce as much electricity as it uses. This will be accomplished by reducing the power demand and installing renewable power sources, making the facility self sufficient.

“If this project becomes a reality it will demonstrate how seriously the Coast Guard takes sustainability,” said Acosta.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the federal government to perform energy audits on 25 percent of its facilities each year. Throughout 2009, the team audited 40 percent of the BSU, which equates to more than 92,000 square feet of Coast Guard property.

Team members have seized opportunities to learn more about cutting-edge technology they can apply throughout the district. Six team members participated in a Government Energy 2009 workshop in Providence, R.I., in August 2009 and learned about the newest innovations and technologies in resource conservation. Additionally, three team members attended the Pacific Electrical Association Conference and Expo with a focus on the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and renewable energy solutions.

The nations’ precious natural resources are becoming scarce, and energy prices continue to climb all over the country. The Coast Guard’s Sustainability Implementation Team has taken great measures to reduce energy and waste water consumption at Coast Guard units throughout the district and will continue to find efficient alternatives to energy use here in Hawaii and throughout the 14th District.

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