How about you?
I spent last week in San Antonio, TX, at a workshop hosted by the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME, pronounced sammy) and the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), looking into how in the world the US military, the nation’s largest consumer of energy (among a host of other commodities) is going to carve a whopping chunk out of its energy budget.
In the early 1970s, Congress began mandating reductions in energy consumed by federal agencies, primarily by improving building efficiency and reducing fossil fuel use. Early legislation mandated a 10% reduction in federal building energy and a recent executive order mandates a 30% further reduction by 2015.
In FY2007, defense spending on energy to operate its facilities reached almost $3.5 billion. In the last decade, Congress has appropriated $443 million in defense energy conservation projects, and the value of contracts to install energy savings improvements has exceeded $2.8 billion. While the Defense Department has reduced its energy consumption, its energy spending increased as a result of higher energy prices. Congress continues to look at furthering energy efficiency improvements in aging defense facilities and buildings as a means to rein in energy consumption and spending.
Now it’s one thing to put the spotlight on noncombatant facilities and activities, but how about those involved in warfighting operations? Well, they’re not immune from the scalpel either. As set forth in the DOD’s Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy, http://energy.defense.gov/OES_report_to_congress.pdf:
Today, U.S. forces are involved in a range of missions, including current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, humanitarian and disaster relief operations, training exercises, and routine deployments in support of alliances and partnerships. Many of these missions may involve long distances, rapid deployments, and a sustained presence—all of which require large volumes of fuel. The major consumers of fuel in current operations in Afghanistan are aircraft, ground vehicles, and expeditionary bases. Aircraft and ships account for the majority of the overall DoD operational energy consumption.
Moving large volumes of fuel for military operations entails logistical and tactical risks and challenges, and it can also be costly. In 2010, for example, the Department consumed nearly 5 billion gallons of petroleum in military operations, costing $13.2 billion, a 255 percent increase over 1997 prices. Moreover, given the volatility of oil markets, it is difficult to anticipate and budget for fuel costs.
Sound like concerns you have in your operations? You bet…and it’s why that along with the pollution reduction aspects of Tier IV, we’ve seen engine and equipment manufacturers put a premium on fuel efficiency as well. But the report goes on to say:
Energy is critical to military capabilities—from the individual warrior to the unit level—in ways that can be independent of the volume of fuel consumed. Compared to aircraft or ground vehicles, for example, a Warfighter on a three-day foot patrol in Afghanistan has a relatively small demand for energy, but that demand has been growing. Today, that Warfighter may carry more than 33 batteries, weighing up to 10 pounds, to power critical gear. By 2012, battery loads for the same mission are projected to increase to more than 50 batteries per soldier, weighing nearly 18 pounds. At the battalion level, the Marine Corps has tracked a dramatic increase in energy-consuming equipment, including a 250 percent increase in radios and a 300 percent increase in computers, over the last decade.
While the numbers and burdens of energy support for operations are greater than those of a construction site, still we have experienced a similar increase in the electrical energy in managing our projects…and these can only grow. So the message is clear both to us as it is for the warfighting community. If you don’t strictly manage your energy needs, you are not going to like the results.