Today, all branches of the military have been mandated to “go green” by legislation signed into law by congress. These laws have been enacted to protect the environment from pollution and to save money by cutting the amounts of petroleum fuel products used by the armed forces.
The Michigan National Guard and other Reserve branches co-located on Michigan Guard installations have answered the call to go green by implementing policies and programs that promote green energy initiatives.
Selfridge Air National Guard Base*
The Air National Guard at Selfridge Air Base has taken several approaches to saving energy. SANGB earned money through the Air National Guard Energy Incentive program to purchase a thermal imagery camera and software. The thermal imagery camera allows its operator to examine buildings and determine fluid leaks, heat leaks or other energy loss problems without having to tear apart buildings or structures, saving the MIANG money by allowing pin point precision when repairing problems.
SANGB has installed smart meters on 36 buildings and direct digital control systems in 32 buildings around the base.
Smart meters are a highly accurate meter which allow for better monitoring and mapping of energy usage for heating, cooling, lighting and water consumption. The use of the meters allows technicians to fine tune certain operations to minimize energy consumption during peak usage times.
The DDC is a hyper-efficient thermostat which also allows for remote monitoring, allowing a technician at one central location to monitor energy usage in multiple locations at once.
Shannon Hulswit, who works on energy management for Selfridge, said in addition to the savings realized by the reduction in energy consumption, the base will be eligible for utility rebates from the utility companies for making these upgrades. Based on the size of the projects, the base could be eligible for rebates in excess of $100,000.
“These systems will provide for greater control over our energy usage, the potential savings and rebate are significant,” she said.
Navy Operations Support Center Battle Creek
The U.S. Navy Reserve has a Navy Operations Support Center located on Fort Custer, Mich., and is participating in green energy by utilizing a solar-power and glycol water heating system.
Contracting officer representative Robert Valkner said, “Our water-heating system is the first of its kind for a Navy Reserve center in Michigan. It consists of a solar panel array, glycol in gas tubes under glass, a backup gas fired heater for inclement days and a computer control unit.”
Valkner said, “The unit collects heat from the sun, transfers it to the circulating glycol and the glycol warms the water which is pumped through the tubes. Again, on inclement days, the computer can sense if the sun isn’t providing enough heat and the gas fired heater will heat the water.”
“The Navy is now employing green energy sources whenever possible in compliance with Department of Defense directives,” said Valkner. “Our water heater system helped us attain a silver rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program and we’re working to attain a higher rating every day. Using green energy sources is a win-win situation for everyone, the Navy has reduced operating costs and the taxpayers are billed less to fund us.”
Camp Grayling, Mich., has implemented many green energy initiatives ranging from smart meter power controls, wind and solar power generation, water pollution safeguards and a recycling facility.
Wes Miller, a systems technician said, “Our new buildings are all being fitted with smart meters and we’ve retrofitted many of our older structures. The smart meters help us save energy by allowing us to set temperatures, using computer automation, at either an occupied or unoccupied setting. Since the system is automated, we don’t have to send a technician to a building to turn the power and heat on and off as needed.”
Lake Margarethe is protected by Camp Grayling green initiatives. Miller said, “We keep storm water run-off, which can contain garbage, from flowing into Lake Margarethe with run-off collection by use of retention basins. This keeps garbage out of the lake and prevents fish and water birds from being harmed by it as well.”
Camp Grayling has also invested in renewable power sources. Miller said, “Building 36 on Camp Grayling has been fitted with a 20 kilowatt array of solar panels. The panels have generated 10,403 kilowatts of energy since they’ve been installed. Grayling also has a micro grid pad consisting of wind and generator power elements that generate 480 volts of industrial three phase power.”
The award winning Camp Grayling recycling center is a key element to the installation’s contribution to the go green initiative. The recycling center took second place in the 2010 National Guard Bureau’s, Sustainable Non-Industrial, Installation Recycling Facilities category.
Recycling center manager James Cox said, “Our facility collects 16 categories of recyclable items ranging from paper, wood, metal and plastic-based products. The key to our success is that our process sorts and breaks down the items, freeing our civilian partner, Padnos, from having to spend money on labor to do this task at their facility.”
According to one Padnos 2013 document, Camp Grayling recycled more than 20 tons of paper and 77,869 pounds of plastic. This recycling resulted in saving the equivalent of 340 trees, 604,731 kilowatts of energy, 2,368 cubic yards of air pollution, 16,297 gallons of oil, 354 cubic yards of landfill waste and 140,000 gallons of water.
Padnos pays for the materials they collect and the funds received go back into the Camp Grayling operations budget, saving taxpayer dollars. Cox said, “Recycled cardboard is our biggest money-maker. The taxpayer got $18,000 back last year from just the cardboard alone. It’s rewarding to know that our hard work eases the tax burden for Michigan citizens and helps keep the state clean.”
The “go green” initiatives that Michigan Guard and Michigan-based Reserve units embrace demonstrate that citizen-service members are concerned about their local environment and are actively working towards saving taxpayer dollars through recycling and using green energy to defray operations expenses. In an era of shrinking budgets and growing concerns about environmental pollution, Michigan citizens can be assured that their citizen-service member neighbors are doing their part to be stewards of the environment and save money in these difficult economic times.
*The Selfridge Air National Guard section of this story was written by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs. All other story sections and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Downen, Joint Forces Headquarters Public Affairs, Michigan National Guard.