Environmental Management: resource conservation and resource assurance

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Penny Snoozy
  • 173rd FW/PA
Keeping infrastructure from the late forties up and running comes with challenges. It requires continual maintenance and process improvement to keep the Kingsley Field facility running smoothly and safely. The 173rd Fighter Wing Environmental Management Office takes on a large part of this task.

The Environmental Management office says their mission is one of strategic energy management. This process looks at the use of resources and aims to, "Get the most out of every penny" says 1st Lt. Joe Young, the environmental office manager.

"Seventy-five percent of our buildings are 50 years or older," he says. "Those buildings are not designed or built to support the technology that we use today."

Young explains that creatively utilizing existing space and recycling materials when possible makes updates feasible. With the cost of new state-of-the-art structures being so high, updates and expansions are usually impossible or very difficult to fund.
Conservation is a constant process, but Young says this base is nearing the point of diminishing returns with current available structures and resources. In the "greener and cleaner" Air Force, many units are coming to a threshold of conservation efforts.
"I think we're doing well. We're starting to eliminate all the low-hanging fruit so it's becoming more and more of a challenge to make the big impact without severe changes like turning all the power off" says Young.

All the work invested to create a proficient base is lost if emergent circumstances prevent or disrupt our energy supply. In preparation, the next step in managing resources is securing resource assurance. Young says the goal of energy assurance is the ability to continue operations in the midst of a break or interruption of the power supply. With this in mind, Young says the Air Force has just recently initiated the early stages of resource assurance programs.

The more self-reliant the base can become, the more capable it is of responding in times of disaster and emergencies. With events like the Cascadia Subduction zone looming over the west coast, an internal power source could secure operations and increase our availability to support and respond to our state.

"We've got at least two significant projects planned," says Young.

One project is called a microgrid. A microgrid is at least one building that is disconnected from the rest of power grid so that the building can operate independently if power is lost. Young says ultimately the plan would be to slowly expand the micro grid until each building could operate independently of each other throughout the base.

The second project the environmental office is currently investigating is locally sourced renewable energy. Young says this could include solar, wind, and geothermal energies. The geothermal energy is a proven technology used in the Klamath Basin.
Young says the environmental management office is highly optimistic since "we do have [geothermal] potential right here on the airfield. We just have to break into fully developing and operating a power plant."

In the meantime, the environmental management office works persistently, ha says, to eliminate any waste and non-essential use of resources and improve daily practices so the base and the mission can carry on.