PUBLIC WORKS DIGEST • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012
n the spring o 2010, Sierra Army Depot, Cali., was selected as a pilotnet-zero installation or the U.S. Army.By deinition,
means that theinstallation will be able to produce as muchpower as it consumes in a year.Sierra Army Depot spends about $8million per year in energy to heat, lightand cool its six million-plus square eeto useable space. This space includes 800storage igloos, 27 separate 90,000-square-oot warehouses and a multitude o oiceand maintenance acilities.Unortunately, our remote location inthe high desert o northern Caliorniadoes not oster the competition that bringsabout lower utility rates. The positive sideo having higher utility rates allows or ashorter time rame to recoup any energy saving investments. The depot has undertaken a ive-stepapproach to reach net zero:1. Reduce the demand.2. Educate the users o energy.3. Measure the usage.4. Partner with utility companies.5. Produce renewable energy.
To be able to create enough renewableenergy, it is imperative to reduce thedemand or energy. This goal can bereached by doing a number o small thingsas well as larger projects.Install motion sensor light switches.Replace T12 bulbs with T8 bulbs or evenLED lights, which use about one-thirdo the energy o conventional bulbs andlast or up to 10 years. Add insulation.Install solar street lights, and replace older windows with low-e triple-pane windows.Replace older urnaces and boilers withhigh-eiciency ones. Talk with theDirectorate o Inormation Managementabout a program to shut o computers andmonitors when there is no activity or a while. Install tankless hot water heaters.In designing a new building or a majorretroit, use the lessons learned by others.Face the building to maximize light andphotovoltaic eectiveness. Put the utility rooms on the north side o the building.Paint the rooms with relective paint anduse relective window sills to bring lightinto the rooms, which can reduce thenumber o ixtures needed. Use solar powerto preheat make-up air. Use waterlessurinals, and collect the runo water orirrigation. These actions are all cheap ixes thatcombined have a quick payback and, insome cases, actually reduce the cost o construction.
Sierra has started a program to updateand educate acility managers about theirenergy usage. We also keep everyonethinking about energy by writing articlesor our depot newspaper. A proposal is inthe place to reward the 1,500-plus civilianemployees o Sierra i they meet the 2009presidential directive to reduce energy usage by 3 percent per year.Getting people to recognize that energy is a precious commodity is paramount toan eective reduction program.
We are also installing utility meters where there were none to both meetmandates and to quantiy and identiy areas o high utility costs. This program will help us to allow occupants o likebuildings to compete against each other inenergy reduction. An Energy ManagementControl System will allow us to tie all o the inormation together to control andlower our utility ootprint.
By partnering with local utility companies, we can use the power roman adjacent geothermal plant to lowerour rates. This capability will also keepour electrical grid operational on a moreconsistent basis.Snow storms, high winds, desert heatand wild ires have caused us to experiencenumerous power outages. Partnering withour local power company will allow or amore consistent electrical grid.In a world where budgets are being cut, we all have to spend our money wisely and eiciently. Numerous programs existthat will und utility savings projects —Energy Savings Perormance Contracts,the Energy Conservation InvestmentProgram, power purchase agreements,the Environmental Security Technology Certiication Program and a host o others. Through these instruments, privatecompanies will spend their money to save you money. I it does not make sense, theenergy services company will not gambleits money. I it does make sense, we needto take advantage o their dollars.
Like most desert locations, the Sierra Army Depot has an abundance o sunny days. Photovoltaic ields can be placedin literally hundreds o locations on our37,000 acres. We also have a knowngeothermal capability. We are exploring numerous optionsand proposals to take advantage o theabundance o natural resources. The ability to produce power is a mandatory steptowards achieving net zero.Becoming net zero is not an easy task,but it is not impossible. It is just like
Robert M. Sanders Photo by Lloyd Gubler, Sierra Army Depot
Focus on Net Zero
Becoming net zero
by Robert M. Sanders