Seeking sustainable solutions for brighter future

On the same day that President Obama outlined his Better Building Initiative that aims to reduce companies’ energy bills by about $40 billion a year, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart hosted its second annual energy symposium.

Approximately 100 participants attended the symposium, held Feb. 3 in the Swabian Special Events Center, to discuss how to increase the garrison’s energy efficiency and stewardship.

The symposium also included presentations by several of the garrison’s host nation energy and federal government partners, and exhibits featuring an electric bicycle, LED street lamps, solar panels and a smart metering system.

“We’re doing a lot of good things here in Stuttgart, but we want to do more. We want to reduce our energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and look to renewable forms of energy,” said USAG Stuttgart Commander Col. Carl D. Bird, as he welcomed the participants.

Keynote speaker Installation Management Command Europe Region Director Diane Devens addressed the Army’s energy strategy and its net zero energy initiative.
Net zero energy means an installation or building produces as much energy as it consumes, resulting in a net usage of zero. In October, the president signed an executive order that directs federal agencies, to include the Army, to achieve zero net energy by 2030.

“Everything we do in the Army requires energy,” Devens told the audience.
She said the Army accounted for 21 percent of the Defense Department’s fuel and power consumption, while the Defense Department accounted for 80 percent of federal energy spending in 2009.

“What we do counts. In that regard, we are a role model for our nation. We need to set the standards for others to emulate. “The Army’s strategy is clear: Make energy a consideration for all Army activities to reduce demand, increase efficiency, seek alternative sources and create a culture of energy accountability while sustaining or enhancing operational capabilities,” Devens said.

She pointed out two substantial, ongoing construction projects in IMCOM Europe that will comply with requirements established by the internationally recognized green building certification system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Dal Molin in Vicenza, Italy, set to become the home of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, will achieve at least a 30 percent decrease in energy use and a 30 percent reduction in water consumption, Devens said.

Construction projects in USAG Wiesbaden, the future site of U.S. Army Europe headquarters, include over 300 family housing units that will meet the SPiRiT Gold criteria — the rating tool used before LEED — and Germany’s rigorous environmental standards, and an entertainment and bowling center that meets the LEED silver standard.

Devens also outlined a number of other inroads IMCOM-Europe has made on the energy front, from building passive energy family housing in Ansbach to funding photovoltaic electricity generating systems that significantly reduce overall energy consumption and cost.

USAG Stuttgart has its own energy-cost cutting projects in the works.
Julia Schilling, of Staatliches Hochbauamt Reutlingen, the German federal agency that oversees all construction on U.S. military installations in this country, described the green features of the high school and elementary school that is planned for the Panzer Local Training Area.

The design concept calls for a super-insulated building envelope, which will significantly reduce energy use by keeping heat inside the building in the winter and outside the building in the summer, a natural ventilation system, dynamic lighting that will reduce the need for artificial light, and heating via a connection to the district heating network.

Schilling said the project adheres to German regulations that call for renewable energy technologies and should meet the LEED silver standard. The garrison is also working with Stadtwerke Böblingen-Sindelfingen to replace Panzer Kaserne’s steam heating system by connecting to the district-operated hot water heating system in a two-phase project.

Replacing the oil-fueled boilers will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent and fulfills the requirement of a German renewable energy heat law which calls for 20 percent renewable heat in new building, according to presenter Helmut Dienhart, an engineer with Stadtwerke Sindelfingen.

“We burn a lot of oil on Panzer, and now with the hotel, we’ve seen a 12 percent increase,” said Steve Raymond, the USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Public Works Operations and Maintenance chief, during a break.

While Patch, Kelley and Robinson Barracks already use district heat, the city of Böblingen, which owns the rights to provide district heating to Panzer, until recently, was not structured to engage in a privatized initiative that required capital investment, Raymond said. “Sindelfingen and Böblingen formed a separate company that allows them to enter into this kind of arrangement.” While DPW has been trying to bring district heat to Panzer for almost 20 years, it will take a couple more for the project to come to fruition.

Contracts are being drawn up now. Once they are signed, it should take another 18 months. “It’s a complex issue. It takes a lot time, there’s a lot of money involved, but in the end, the savings are huge,” Raymond said. 

Toward the end of the symposium, attendees brainstormed ways to save energy in small group breakout sessions. They also had the opportunity to speak with garrison representatives about its energy-saving initiatives.

Last October, Building 3318 on Kelley, home to DPW, was fitted with 343 solar panels, according to Werner Kienzle, USAG Stuttgart DPW energy manager. The Department of Energy funded the $325,000 Energy Conservation Investment Project.

“The grid system produces electricity and feeds back into the building,” Kienzle said. It is expected that the system will generate enough electricity to support the building’s electrical needs.

He added that by the end of 2012, advanced electric meters will be installed in 210 buildings across the garrison. The meters will feed data to a central Army-wide system for data analysis and reporting.

“We will be able to compare energy usage building by building, identify peak loads for each building and any buildings where the energy use is significantly higher than its historical average,” Kienzle said.

He added that the meters will allow accurate reimbursable tenant utility billing.  
In addition, several high-traffic office buildings are getting motion sensor LED lighting in their hallways. Even the chandeliers and sconces in the SSEC ballroom now sport LED bulbs, reducing energy demand by 88 percent, according to Jim Grady, the deputy director for DPW.  

He added that the garrison is also looking at replacing street lights with new, more efficient LED lights in the next year, with the goal of gradually replacing them all over time.

“We’ve been doing these things so they’re transparent to the community,” Grady said. But technology can only take the garrison so far in terms of energy efficiency, according to DPW Operations and Maintenance Chief Raymond. Conservation is also a necessary part.

“If you have an efficient attitude toward using the utility, whether its water, electric or gas, than you’re going to be more effective than a person who doesn’t,” said Raymond.

He said turning off a light is simple, “but this cultural change that Ms. Devens talked about — where the Army culture needs to start focusing on using facilities and utilities efficiently — that’s the conservation piece to focus on.”

To provide energy conservation feedback or report concerns, e-mail