Energy conservation: Everyone's responsibility Published April 13, 2010 By Senior Airman Scott Saldukas 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Everyone would like a few extra dollars in their pocket after paying their utility and water bills, but does that mean everyone puts energy conservation high on their list of priorities? The Air Force does, especially Ramstein. In 2007, The Air Force set a goal to reduce facility energy three percent each year and water consumption by two percent each year until 2015. The 24 percent reduction of energy and 16 percent drop in water consumption over the eight year span is a part of Executive Order 13423, which requires all Department of Defense services to reduce facility energy and water use. "The Air Force must promote the use of alternative or renewable energy sources and support energy awareness to sustain our mission," said Raul Visaya, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager for the Kaiserslautern Military Community. "One simple and important item the KMC can do and be involved with is to think about energy conservation and apply it in your everyday life." Though there is a major focus on energy conservation nationwide, Ramstein has developed its own energy conservation program to play their part. "The 86th CES asset management flight's energy team provides and promotes a comprehensive program of reducing energy and water consumption while increasing sustainability," Mr. Visaya said. "The team has provided new energy policies and guidelines to all CE engineers and architects to design and execute new projects that will promote green buildings and net-zero energy facilities." Plans have been put in place to incorporate leadership in energy and environmental design principles for new facilities. These principles will include protecting and conserving water, enhancing indoor environmental quality and reducing environmental impact of materials. "The latter principle incorporates the use of only recycled, no ozone-depleting, bio-based building materials," the energy manager said. "Also, one of the guidelines will prohibit the use of paint that is high in volatile organic compounds which will significantly vaporize the earth's ozone." Although major products designed to aid in the use of fewer resources will help in the future, Mr. Visaya said small everyday acts can help now, such as turning off lights when daylight is available or when leaving an empty room. Other simple day-to-day actions may include: - Saving electricity by unplugging all unused electronic devices when they are not in use. - Cutting heating costs by closing blinds and avoiding any obstructions near the heater. - Conserving water by turning it off when you soap up your hands or begin to brush your teeth, using the stop lever after flushing the toilet, lowering the water temperature of washing machines, skipping the pre-wash cycle and remembering to wash full loads. - Checking the refrigerator temperature, not leaving door open and allowing food to cool before going in the fridge. Compact fluorescent light bulbs can also save about $30 over its lifetime and pays for itself in about six months, Mr. Visaya said. Also, it uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Saving energy not only saves money on energy bills now, but it also saves resources. "Wasting energy results in unnecessary depletion of our natural resources and results in financial instability," the KMC energy manager said. To prevent this, the Air Force is committed to increasing energy efficiency, improving conservation efforts and using alternative and renewable energy sources while "making energy a consideration in all we do every day." "Successful Air Force energy initiatives begin and end with our motivated military and civilian workforce," said General Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, in an Air Force Portal memorandum. "In the past few years, we have successfully worked together to reduce energy consumption at our bases by almost 18 percent, while reducing our fuel use by nearly the same amount."