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Air Force family celebrates 'Facility Energy' initiatives this Earth Day

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Elmore
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency
Air Force men and women join millions of people across the country and around the globe this year in celebrating 40 years of Earth Day. Celebrated annually on April 22, Earth Day promotes awareness and appreciation for the environment.

The slogan, "make every day Earth Day" is exemplified in the Air Force civil engineer's plan for transformation where officials are charged, among many things, to build sustainable installations and integrate energy and environmental considerations in how people work, live and play.

This summer, the Air Force becomes the first in the United States and in the Department of Defense to operate a transportable plasma Waste-2-Energy System facility to benefit the environment and create energy.

The facility, under construction at Hurlburt Field, Fla., will produce electrical energy and marketable byproducts from garbage using patented plasma arc technology. W2E uses the intense heat of plasma to gasify and vitrify -- turn into glass -- virtually any type of waste with no harmful pollutants. A generator uses the synthetic gas, or syngas, to produce electricity and hot water.

Travis Air Force Base, Calif., is an Air Force showcase for using green and sustainable environmental cleanup, also known as remediation. Three recent initiatives by engineers at the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment, located in San Antonio, significantly reduced the carbon footprint of Travis' groundwater remediation systems while promoting green and sustainable approaches for the treatment of chlorinated solvents. These initiatives have gathered endorsements and positive feedback from representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California.

Tyndall AFB officials open the doors to the base's new state-of-the art fitness center in June. It is one of the Air Force's "green" energy demonstration projects. The center is on target to become the first facility in the DOD to reach the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum level, the highest ranking possible under the group's green building rating system. The new $16.6M gym is three times bigger than the current fitness center but will use 20 percent less energy.

Officials at the Air Force Facility Energy Center located at the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency here have helped implement approximately 34 on-base renewable energy projects with many more either programmed to be funded and constructed or identified to be further studied. By December 2011, officials at Luke AFB, Ariz., plan to host a solar array on 116 acres that will generate 17 megawatts of electricity.

In addition, as many as 20 new photovoltaic projects could be built on Air Force bases by 2015. Wind turbines are in operation on four bases with seven more installations under consideration for wind power during the next five years. Engineers at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., are in talks with the local utility to build up to 24 wind turbines. To put this project in perspective, it would produce up to five times more energy than currently generated by 700 solar panels at Nellis AFB, Nev.

The Air Force family is proud to celebrate its daily commitment to sustaining the mission through green innovation. As they maintain dominance in air, space and cyberspace, they take to heart the responsibility to do so with keen awareness of the environment in which they train and live.