The Pentagon's lighting and utility systems are being audited to determine energy savings throughout its 6.5 million square feet. (AFP)
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The Pentagon is getting an energy facelift.
The Army Corps of Engineers has tasked energy contractors Eaton and C.H. Guernsey with auditing all the lighting and utility systems and coming up with plans to upgrade or modify the systems and cut energy costs.
Gina Elliott, chief of the utility monitoring and control systems branch of the Army Corps of Engineers at the Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., said the audit will include not just lights and fixtures, but also control systems, such as sensors that read the amount of sunlight in a room and adjust internal lights accordingly.
“The greener you can get and the more money you can save, the better,” Elliott said.
The $3.8 million in contracts covers the installation of some of the upgrades, and those will help the Pentagon begin saving energy immediately, according to Elliott.
And there are many other opportunities to become more energy-efficient. The Pentagon is considered one of the largest office buildings in the world, housing about 28,000 civilian and military employees. It’s about 6.5 million square feet — or the space within 2½ Empire State Buildings.
Elliott said other ways to save energy include replacing traditional lights with LED lighting, better controlling the heating and cooling systems and installing occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights in vacant rooms.
The lighting audit will be completed in September, while a separate audit focused on other systems such as heating and cooling systems will be finished in July, Elliott said. After the audits are complete, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin completing the suggested projects — a process that could take months or years depending on the project.
Agencies are required to reduce their facility energy use by 30 percent over a 2003 baseline by fiscal 2015.
John Stampfel, vice president of the Electrical Engineering Services and Systems Division at Eaton, said not only will the end result save DoD money, it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The White House pledged in 2009 that the government will reduce direct emissions — such as those generated by federal cars and buildings — by 28 percent below 2008 levels.
“Drawing on our long and successful experience with major government customers, Eaton will help enhance and modernize the energy efficiency of this iconic and essential building,” Stampfel said.
He said new lighting technology such as LEDs allows agencies to get nearly the same amount of light in a space while significantly reducing the energy consumed.
Stampfel added that after the energy projects are completed, employees and military members will notice improvements throughout the building.
“You can’t help but feel proud to be participating with such an important building,” he said. ■