In an average day, we turn on lights, appliances, and electronics that all consume energy. While leaving your porch light on overnight or bumping your heat up a few degrees might not seem like much, it adds up. In 2017 alone, the U.S. consumed about 3.82 trillion kilowatt hours of energy.
It’s clear that U.S. citizens are consuming energy at a quick rate, but what about the government? When a left on light turns into thousands of lights in bases or warehouse, the numbers can be surprising.
In FY 2016, Department of Defense (DoD) installation energy consumption, which typically is comprised of traditional energy sources such as heating, cooling, and electricity, comprised over 21 percent of the total federal government’s energy consumption. The DoD is now aiming to reduce its demand for installation energy by investing in improved lighting, high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and energy friendly air conditioning units. And now is the perfect time for the military to make that investment.
In our most recent article on The GovDesignHub, we’ve explored how the military currently has a window of increased funding for infrastructure projects, after years of budget uncertainty. Some of this funding has been earmarked for renovation and repair on military bases, some of which have been neglected on account of budget concerns and spending priorities. This was illustrated in recent remarks from Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson, at the recent Air Force Association Conference, when he said, “[Our team has] mapped out our bases and infrastructure and we can tell you where areas we need improvements are down to every building on every installation across the Air Force. Then we’ve got to stop just looking at it and doing something about it, so we’ve prioritized the investment in our infrastructure…and boosted the funding considerably this past year and made it priority that we’ll fundamentally fund our base infrastructure…”
This added funding for infrastructure can go a long way towards funding programs that can increase the energy efficiency of military bases and installations – helping to reduce energy consumption and drastically cut costs over time. However, for the DoD to be successful in their energy consumption reduction and budget usage, they must first identify the buildings, areas, and systems that are causing the energy drain.
Know before you go
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through virtual energy audits, which can enable the DoD and other government agencies to pinpoint where the excess energy is being consumed and take actions to correct it.
A virtual audit uses end-user data to analyze the building operations, equipment, utility usage, and other variables to determine solutions to reduce energy and environmental impact across one building or multiple. When analyzing multiple buildings, a virtual audit provides the most cost-effective energy conservation measures (ECMs) across the portfolio of buildings.
A virtual audit can be started in three easy steps:
Capture: First, basic information such as address, measurements, square footage, and exterior photos will be collected.
Model: Next, advanced digital design software is used to draw a 3d model of the building based on the information captured in step one.
Analyze: Finally, software that uses weather, electrical, and other utility databases will simulate the building’s energy consumption. Once this phase is complete, the model and software can be used to screen for potential problem areas throughout a building, estimate energy usage, and project ROI for an upgrade.
Virtual audits provide a picture of what occurs throughout a facility and helps users, such as the DoD, to monitor energy consumption and highlight areas of potential cost savings. Here is an example of a virtual energy audit in action…
Air Force gets green
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center used Autodesk technology to perform a Virtual Energy Audit that allowed them to identify the areas of energy waste in their building portfolio. First, building information such as blueprint and height specs were input into the CAD system to create a 3D Rapid Energy Model. The structure tables were then used to run an energy analysis that resulted in energy reports for each building that continue to auto-update the Infaworks model.
The audit provided the center with a whole building energy analysis and a detailed report of energy consumption that focused on the largest energy consuming systems within the portfolio, allowing the center to make informed decisions about their energy consumption.
Government agencies, including the DoD, face challenges with energy consumption, efficiency, cost, and labor. Using technology like Autodesk Revit to build a 3D building model, provides agencies with building utility history, highlights energy usage concerns, and provides solid energy cost projections. These models not only promote better-informed energy decisions, but are quick to build, accurate, and easy to use. Using Virtual Energy Audits, the government and military have the potential to save energy and reduce costs.