Going green for the men & women in blue

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Solar arrays installed at Coast Guard facilities across Puerto Rico will increase renewable energy production while significantly reducing energy intensity on the island. Additional efficiency improvements to housing units provided by this landmark project will bring much needed comfort to Coast Guard residents on the island. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Solar arrays installed at Coast Guard facilities across Puerto Rico will increase renewable energy production while significantly reducing energy intensity on the island. Additional efficiency improvements to housing units provided by this landmark project will bring much needed comfort to Coast Guard residents on the island. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by Andrea Snyder, Coast Guard Office of Energy Management.

Tomorrow, countries across the globe will celebrate Earth Day. This annual observance promotes awareness, education and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment and protection of natural resources—one of the core missions of the Coast Guard.

In addition, numerous executive orders require the Coast Guard to meet targets in energy and environmental performance, mandating the organization continues to decrease reliance on traditional energy sources, reduce water usage and greenhouse gas emissions and build and monitor a more efficient infrastructure on a year-on-year basis.

Contract engineers audit a Coast Guard cutter for energy conservation opportunities while in port. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Contract engineers audit a Coast Guard cutter for energy conservation opportunities while in port. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

As the federal sector celebrates the 42nd observance of Earth Day, the men and women in blue are getting down to the business of being “green,” and not just for one day — the Coast Guard is aggressively pursuing energy efficiency and fuel conservation strategies ashore and afloat, on a full-time basis.

In February, the Engineering and Logistics Directorate issued the second edition of the Operational Sustainability Performance Plan which prioritizes Coast Guard actions for meeting the requirements of Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.

Earlier this year, construction started to convert Air Station Sitka‘s heating system to a wood pellet biomass system. It will be the first unit biomass system in the Coast Guard and includes a new contracting mechanism from the Defense Logistics Agency to provide wood pellets as a fuel source for the Department of Defense.

Construction is wrapping up on a landmark project that includes photovoltaic installation and efficiency improvements at several Coast Guard facilities throughout Puerto Rico. This 2.89-megawatt system is the largest roof-mounted solar project in the Coast Guard and was seeded with a first-of-kind contracting strategy for the Coast Guard and the entire federal government.

The Coast Guard is also collaborating with the Navy to evaluate a second generation alternative biofuel derived from algae. The hydrotreated renewable is an alternative fuel that could be utilized in Navy ships and Coast Guard cutters worldwide.

Over the past year, the Coast Guard has surveyed and identified energy conservation opportunities on Island-, Juniper– and Legend-class cutters while in port. Energy-saving measures while underway are currently being investigated. Similar activities at Coast Guard facilities are generating new resources for personnel including a draft Coast Guard Facilities Energy Guide and draft Vessel Energy Guide.

A cover was installed at the Training Center Cape May Olympic-size swimming pool as part of a  Utility Energy Services Contract.  The cover will help generate savings for the TraCen by regulating water temperature, reducing evaporation rates, and ventilation strain. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Michelle Casillo.
A cover was installed at the Training Center Cape May Olympic-size swimming pool as part of a Utility Energy Services Contract. The cover will help generate savings for the TraCen by regulating water temperature, reducing evaporation rates, and ventilation strain. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Michelle Casillo.

Units large and small across the organization are undergoing facility efficiency improvements as part of several Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Service Contracts. These unique financing mechanisms allow the Coast Guard to reap maximum capital investment with nominal initial funding by the agency and have been used by the Coast Guard since 1997. Current alternatively financed projects include energy conservation measures at more than 10 sites throughout Florida with additional projects in development at Training Center Yorktown, Base Elizabeth City and Base Portsmouth.

These efforts may be “green,” but the results are black-and-white. In fiscal year 2011, the Coast Guard reduced shore energy use intensity by 20.3 percent relative to a 2003 baseline and decreased water use by 15.2 percent comparative to 2007. The agency is generating 7.1 percent electricity from renewable sources; designing all new buildings to be 30 percent more energy-efficient than relevant code; is on track to achieve advanced metering goals; and continues to aggressively reduce GHG emissions since benchmarking the requirement in 2008.

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