News: JBM-HH works with Arlington County to reduce energy usage
By Michael Norris, Pentagram Assistant Editor
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - To better meet Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s energy needs and reduce its carbon footprint, the JBM-HH Directorate of Public Works has been working with Arlington County to share ideas and strategies about energy consumption.
JBM-HH Energy Manager Bill Lucas has been meeting with his counterparts in Arlington County government to exchange information about energy usage and conservation that impact the environment, from monitoring greenhouse gas output to the feasibility of establishing an electricity microgrid on base that could serve as a back-up power source in the event of emergencies.
Lucas said JBM-HH occasionally meets with county officials to discuss where each organization is going. “Each installation is supposed to have an energy steering group,” he explained. “That’s where you get ideas that filter down.” The information exchanged will be used to establish the overall joint base energy program Lucas is developing with the base commander.
The plan involves “saving renewable energy and reducing electrical consumption,” Lucas said. “It’s development of a policy plan and sharing technologies — that’s the main thing that we can benefit from right now [by working with the county]. In the future there may some opportunities for joint sharing of utilities or some kind of contract vehicle…”
The object is to “collaborate with a variety of stakeholders in the community … to make smart energy decisions, and secondly, to understand how the policies, goals and tools the county is putting forth in documents affect our constituents — residents, businesses, developers or the folks here at joint base,” said Rich Dooley, the county’s Department of Environmental Services community energy coordinator. “That’s part of the collaboration effort.”
Lucas said collaborating with the county is fruitful because it can provide “a much broader view and knowledge” of the technological literature, software and devices available to monitor and reduce energy consumption.
“We’re not sharing policy yet, but we’re sharing information and data,” said John Morrill, Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services’ energy manager. “In these roles as energy managers we sometimes share information on technology transfer.”
In addition to working with federal facilities located in the county, Morrill said the county meets with the private sector and utilities to assess long-term plans for improving energy performance. By doing that, he said, “we can get aggregate data on energy consumption in the county as a whole.”
“Energy is such a vital requirement for community and economic development that it deserves to be planned for,” he continued. “There’s really a lot of strategic planning that goes into envisioning and anticipating ways energy supply and delivery might be altered from how it is today, [in order to] to be more efficient, more reliable and more resilient, which also helps the local economy.”
Having the county, federal government, utilities and the commercial sector work together to achieve a collective goal helps build partnerships.
“We have a relationship with Dominion … as does the joint base,” Morrill said. “When the derecho [storm] hit last summer, the joint base opened up to be a staging area for Dominion crews to serve the northern Virginia area. That was a huge benefit to the community; that was great synergy.”
“We see our work on community energy planning as a logical next step, building upon the legacy of [the county’s] smart growth policies,” the energy manager added.
“The community energy plan outlines where we are and where we want to go,” said Dooley. “The community energy sustainability task force set a goal to reduce green house gas emissions by 2050 by around 75 percent…”
This can be achieved by looking at energy in a number of different ways, “from making buildings more energy-efficient, the transportation sector more energy-efficient, doing a host of education and outreach and changing human behavior in the way we use energy,” he explained. “There are a number of different policies and tools … that are going to go forward to the county board for action in June of this year. It is a long-term effort and a long-range energy plan.”
Morrill said notable reductions in energy use and green house gas emissions have been achieved by county operations over the past six years. “The community energy plan is taking many of the lessons learned in county operations and taking it to the larger community as a whole,” he said.
“We’re on separate but kind of parallel paths,” Lucas said. “We’re trying to trade information and achieve a quality product.”
For more information on the Arlington County energy plan and public forums in which it will be discussed, visit the website www.freshaireva.us/energyplan.