MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - On Oct. 5, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to set goals and make improvements in environmental, energy and economic performance.
“As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,” wrote Obama in Executive Order 13423.
Since then, the Department of Defense has been looking at new ways to solve our nation’s ever increasing energy crisis to become a sustainable, efficient and environmentally responsible force.
Marine Depot Maintenance Command on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow has taken several steps to reduce energy consumption, eliminate wasteful water practices and implement new resources to recycle industrial waste.
“We are working with the base to make sure we reach their [energy efficiency] goal as well as saving money, and continue to meet the demands of production,” said John Peterson, electrical engineering technician with facilities engineering, Production Plant Barstow.
As the Department of Defense moves toward a more sustainable future, the federal government has set utility regulations for each base to meet. Since then, MCLB has met and exceeded the goals for electricity, natural gas and water consumption.
According to the base’s Installation and Logistics energy brief, the cost of utilities for the base has decreased 21 percent since 2008.
Seventy-five percent of the base’s energy consumption comes from MDMC alone, and to reduce energy use, several projects were implemented, including: replacing the high temperature hot water system, air conditioning and heating systems, and installing a solar photovoltaic and solar thermal preheat system.
As years pass, old equipment is replaced due to wear and tear.
The new equipment is better for the environment, said Ben Santos, the division manager and branch head of production engineering at PPB.
The command looked for solutions to maximize utility savings when it came time to decommission the high temperature hot water system.
The hot water system consisted of five boilers running 24/7 and was manned by an employee at all times, explained Santos.
“It cost a lot to run those boilers all the time. Now we are saving the plant resources and funds with the new improvements,” said Santos.
The previous heating system heated Building 573, the steam racks and dip tanks, said Peterson.
Now, natural gas heats the building and electricity heats the dip tanks. The steam racks operate with two generators, which are also powered by natural gas.
Putting new energy-saving technologies into practice, PPB recently installed a 100 kilowatt-hour solar photovoltaic array system and solar thermal preheat for domestic hot water on the roof of the maintenance center.
The photovoltaic system is connected to an electrical infrastructure that converts sunlight into electricity, said Peterson, which is then fed back into the grid and used on the installation.
The solar thermal preheat is a separate source of renewable energy and minimizes electricity consumption for heating water.
Along with large projects of energy conservation, there are smaller plans in the works at MDMC to reduce utility consumption.
Currently, MDMC is working on replacing all of the lighting fixtures with light-emitting diode bulbs, said Peterson.
“At the moment we have about two-thirds completed,” he added.
According to PPB’s energy saving project brief, the steps the command has taken in reducing energy consumption has been estimated to save 970,981 kwh and 996,841 Therms (British Thermal Units) annually.
Not only is PPB continuing its “green” path to improve energy saving practices, but it’s striving to conserve the land and natural resources in its community as well.
The plant recycles motor oil, antifreeze, diesel fuel, oil filters, glass, rubber, plastic, copper, and all types of scrap metal, explained Lisa K. Morris, an environmental protection specialist with PPB.
In the past, oil and antifreeze would be disposed of instead of recycled.
With recycling the materials instead of sending them to be disposed of at a landfill, we save money, and it keeps the waste out of the environment, explained Morris.
“We are currently working on recycling empty aerosol cans by crushing them and recycling them as scrap metal,” said Morris.
It’s an ongoing process to find better ways to save energy and maintain an environmentally-friendly plant, but PPB plans to stay the course and lead by example, said Santos.