October is Energy Awareness Month, a national effort to underscore how central energy is to our national prosperity, security and environmental well-being. Operating more efficiently saves money by reducing the amount spent for power and fuel, and the people at Atlantic Test Ranges are committed to doing their part to support the Navy's energy objectives.
ATR recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Green Team whose goals have been to encourage green initiatives at ATR and keep the "green" in the organization's pocket. The Green Team comprises range sustainability, facilities, information technology and management personnel. The group develops energy-saving initiatives that support Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division energy goals.
"As a new team, we didn't know what to expect," said Melanie Anderson, ATR Green Team lead. "Our plan was to simply collect and research ideas that we could present to management. Fortunately, many of those ideas had already been percolating at ATR and leadership has been extremely supportive."
One of the team's first initiatives was to develop an electrical baseline for the ATR complex. Now, with support from the NAWCAD energy and environmental effort efficiencies office, electrical usage is being tracked on a monthly basis.
The Green Team also focused on lighting upgrades: installing lighting timers in building 2118, testing occupancy sensors in building 1670 and replacing outdated and inefficient 400-watt metal halide exterior lights with 26-watt LED lights. These changes were based on recommendations from Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. SMECO also worked with the Green Team to conduct lighting audits.
Rob Vargo, ATR associate director, said he is proud of the team and its efforts.
"The response to the Green Team has been remarkable," Vargo said. "Not only is the team motivated and excited to research initiatives that will save energy and money, the ATR workforce has also been a big help in suggesting projects."
Recently, the Green Team submitted applications to SMECO to earn ATR a $150 credit for each exterior LED lighting replacement; a total savings credit of $3,300.
Coordination with SMECO also proved valuable when the electric cooperative installed no-cost programmable thermostats in buildings 3176 and 3184 through the company's CoolSentry Program. This initiative not only helped reduce heating and cooling costs in these buildings, but averts regional energy shortages during periods of high demand. And in terms of savings, that's an annual $50 credit on electric bills.
Anderson said the Green Team started with small projects that could quickly be completed and established a process to review energy usage to help monitor future savings.
"The enthusiasm and support from the ATR leadership and workforce, and NAWCAD e4m, has been our best motivator, and we are looking forward to more improvements and savings in the future," Anderson said.
The team has also paired with ATR technical experts to find savings in newer technologies that provide superior mission systems to support test and evaluation. Newer technologies are often much more energy efficient and the Green Team hopes to document these savings and encourage additional efficiency measures where possible. The team is also conducting research on other substantial projects for the future, such as alternative heating and cooling technologies, solar power and water conservation techniques.
Vargo said everything is on the table. "If it makes ATR more efficient while curbing customer costs, we'll consider it for improvement," he said.