I was recently reading about the Air Force’s commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. While I was aware of the branch’s role in the Department of Defense’s efforts to increase renewable energy usage, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along they have come in their initiative.
Master Sgt. Angelita Colon-Francia, of the Air Force Public Affairs Agency office, revealed in a recent statement that the Air Force is well on pace hit its target of generating 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2016. The expectation is that by 2025, 25 percent of the Air Force’s electricity will be from renewable energy sources.
Frankly, this is great news, because what is the military’s role in the DoD’s renewable energy program? Considering the type of equipment used by the military branch, namely large pieces of aircraft, the need for jet fuel will surely limit the ability to implement the same renewable energy strategies that other branches will rely on. Yet, the Air Force is finding innovative solutions to keep up their end of the DoD’s efforts.
“To successfully achieve the Air Force mission to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace, the Air Force must have assured access to reliable supplies of energy, such as renewable energy when and where we need it in support of the mission,” said Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, Deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy.
One way the Air Force can reduce its carbon footprint is through strategy, rather than just installation. Finding ways to naturally improve energy efficiency as an integrated part of the building rather than installing new renewable energy products can prove to be a cost-effective, yet environmentally friendly, method.
The links below describe a DoD demonstration project currently underway at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. Instead of just replacing an old roof with the same type of roof, the building will be re-roofed with an integrated solar electric AND solar thermal roof. The project improves energy efficiency by incorporating insulation and air barrier improvements into the retrofit roofing system that includes solar thermal and solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) collectors. By combining and utilizing mainstream components, this high performance building envelope system holds great potential for the federal government. If proven effective (heating water, creating electricity, reducing fuel consumption, and effectively protecting the building interior), the DoD can roll out cost-effective retrofits of its 2B square foot building inventory without disrupting the occupants or facility operations. To learn more about these projects, read though these two articles:
- High-Performance, Energy-Efficient Cool Metal Roof Assemblies Utilizing Building Integrated Renewable Solar Energy Technologies for New and Retrofit Building Construction
- 17th SFS gets energy efficient roof
By trying and analyzing the efficacy of new energy efficient methods, the Air Force can reach its renewable energy goals. What do you think of their strategy and direction? What do you think about a roof that incorporates solar thermal (creates heat) and solar electric (creates power) as a part of the roof system? (Another way of thinking about may be, “What else can a roof be doing in the Texas hot sun?”)