Supporting the U.S. Department of Defense: A History of Energy Efficiency and National Security

Supporting the U.S. Department of Defense: A History of Energy Efficiency and National Security

November 06, 2012

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the single largest consumer of energy in the nation, accounting for approximately 1% of national energy demand in fiscal year 2011, which added up to a $20 billion energy bill. Beyond the large expenditure, this level of energy consumption makes DoD vulnerable to energy supply disruptions, both from imported petroleum and the power grid.

To improve its energy security, DoD has expanded its funding for and focus on energy efficiency and distributed energy over the last decade—spurring a strong working relationship between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), other research laboratories, industry leaders, and military agencies.

During that decade, Berkeley Lab's particular focus with DoD has been providing military agencies with technical support, research, computer modeling, energy analysis, and technology demonstrations at domestic facilities that have saved money, increased energy security, and provided a proving ground for efficient technologies that can be used in many applications.

But in the last few years, the focus has started to change, according to Rich Brown of Berkeley Lab's Building Technology and Urban Systems Department. DoD has begun to set its energy-saving sights beyond just its building stock.

"All those domestic, fixed facilities together only represent about a quarter of DoD's energy use," said Brown. "The majority of military energy savings potential these days is in what's called 'operational energy'," he said.

That includes planes, ships, tactical vehicles, and expeditionary bases such as the current base camps in Afghanistan that serve as temporary outposts for the military staff deployed there.

"Heating and air conditioning tents in extreme climates with diesel generators uses a lot of energy," Brown said. "This is an example of where the focus is going now," he said.

Operational energy savings is about more than just saving money, Berkeley Lab's Sustainable Federal Operations Director Charles Williams points out. "It is also about saving lives. Many lives have been lost, and many injuries sustained in delivering fuel to forward operating bases," he says. Having fuel and power on hand when needed is critical to completing a military mission successfully—and energy efficiency is one way to secure it. In that vein, DoD plans to spend more than $900 million on reducing DoD's demand for operational energy in fiscal year 2013 alone. Energy-efficiency plans are part of an overall operational energy plan that will reduce demand for energy, expand and secure the supply of energy, and build energy security into the future force. Energy efficiency has become part of a military tactical plan for energy security, and Berkeley Lab—along with other national laboratories—ultimately will play a role in developing the technologies on which they will rely.

"The wars in the Middle East have made the military aware that they are fighting because of oil and that energy is critically important to their ability to function in these countries," Williams said. There is also increased awareness that energy supplies in forward operating bases and fuel for mobile weapons platforms are critical to combat effectiveness.

Just this summer, DoD moved into the first phase of one program aimed at reducing energy use at expeditionary outposts in tropical climates: the $3.85-million Transformative Reductions in Operational Energy Consumption (TROPEC) project. Through this project, DoD hopes to reduce energy use in these environments 50% by 2016.

Berkeley Lab is part of a team awarded TROPEC funding to test and demonstrate technologies for reducing energy use in DoD's forward operating bases, under the leadership of DoD's Pacific Command, which is responsible for security in the Asia/Pacific region. Berkeley Lab's role is in identifying and testing technologies for efficient lighting, electronics, and data processing operations.

The TROPEC program includes three phases: applications from academia and industry for technologies to demonstrate; testing the technologies and products in the laboratory; and then operational testing at military exercises throughout the Asia/Pacific region. At a technical demonstration, "Crimson Viper," held in Thailand in the summer of 2012, Berkeley Lab tested efficient lighting control technologies that are already in use for civilian applications, but have never been demonstrated for military/portable facilities in tropical climates. The test showed that these lighting control technologies can reduce lighting energy use in military tents by 50 percent or more.

Efficiency on the Home Front

Despite this new focus on operational energy, there is still momentum and potential to continue energy efficiency work at DoD's facilities here in the United States. Berkeley Lab's current domestic work for DoD is part of a tapestry woven over the last decade to increase energy efficiency at domestic military bases and shipyards. These projects fall into several categories: technology demonstrations, alternative financing support, high-tech facility energy assessments, training, and other special projects.

Technology Demonstrations and Validations

DoD's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) was established in 1995 to fund demonstrations of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that have already been proven in the laboratory and limited commercial markets, but have not been proven yet in DoD applications.

Under ESTCP, Berkeley Lab participated in demonstrations at bases in Arizona, Illinois, California, Maryland, and Washington, DC—testing technologies including building-integrated photovoltaics, daylighting sensors and controls, a microgrid made from the batteries of an electric vehicle fleet, and computer modeling:

Integrating energy information systems and model-based diagnostics, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. (2012-ongoing)

Berkeley Lab is providing new diagnostic capabilities for the energy information systems at the Washington Navy Yard with a goal of reducing central plant energy use by 10%. Berkeley Lab is providing the existing on-site military and contract personnel with tools that reveal problems with site operations and ways of improving them. Unlike similar projects, the Washington Navy Yard provides a demonstration that integrates advanced diagnostics with commercial tools at an operating facility with numerous operators and user groups.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Jessica Granderson

Daylighting control technologies demonstration at Fort Irwin, California (2010-ongoing)

Berkeley Lab has been tasked with retrofitting and testing lighting and control technologies in three buildings at Fort Irwin, including a combined wireless occupancy/daylight detector, a full-featured control system for building-wide lighting control, and a system that combines wireless lighting control with automated shading devices. Results of the demonstration showed energy savings from 20%-60%, due in part to light level adjustments overall.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Francis Rubinstein

Building-integrated photovoltaics demonstration at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona (2009-2011)

Berkeley Lab provided technical assistance to install and monitor photovoltaic technology integrated into a solar-reflective "cool roof" on an office building at the Yuma, Arizona air base. Berkeley Lab instrumented the roof, gathered data, and analyzed the building energy savings and PV energy generation attained from installating the building integrated photovoltaic roof.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Ronnen Levinson

Energy efficiency modeling demonstration at Naval Station Great Lakes (2009-2011)

Partnering with United Technologies, Berkeley Lab used computer simulation to monitor the performance of existing buildings, flag problems, and diagnose operational faults affecting energy performance. Corrections were made to the lighting schedule and the chiller controls; comparable corrections could be identified at other military sites and then implemented by their own personnel to save energy and money.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Phil Haves

Plug-in vehicle microgrid demonstration at Los Angeles Air Force Base (2012-2014)

The military has about 300,000 non-technical vehicles in their fleet, which represent a significant potential for both energy and emissions savings, as well as providing a distributed energy resource. With both DoD and California Energy Commission support, Berkeley Lab is providing software and technical assistance at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, which is converting its fleet to 100% electric vehicles and demonstrating how the electric vehicles could function as an aggregated battery providing a controllable generation resource directly to the California Independent System Operator. Providing the service can potentially raise enough revenue to offset the higher overall cost of an all-electric fleet. Electric vehicles could also be integrated with bases to provide emergency onsite power generation, load control, and energy storage. Berkeley Lab is developing software that monitors and optimizes the use of the vehicles to maximize revenue for this demonstration with the goal of finding out the extent of economic benefits from converting this fleet—and eventually the entire non-tactical military fleet—to electric vehicles.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Chris Marnay

Energy Savings Performance Contract Financing Support

Energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) allow Federal agencies to accomplish energy savings projects without up-front capital costs and without special Congressional appropriations. Berkeley Lab has provided support to DoD from the administrative side of the ESPC program—helping the Navy streamline its ESPC procurement process; providing a report to Congress on the feasibility of using ESPCs in non-building applications; and assessing measurement and verification practices for the Army Corps of Engineers' ESPC program.

Site Data Package Template for Energy Conservation Measures (2009-2010)

Berkeley Lab provided technical assistance in developing a template for a site data package—a summary of information for prospective bidders to gain a clean picture of the facility to evaluate and propose energy projects the Navy is interested in developing. The Navy requested the development of the site data package as a key element to streamlining the selection of Energy Service Companies and accelerating ESPCs.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Charles Williams

Study for Congress on the feasibility of using ESPCs in non-building applications (2010)

As part of a report to Congress on the potential energy and cost savings in non-building applications in DOD and civilian agencies, Berkeley Lab provided a feasibility study for using ESPCs (draft currently in OMB concurrence review). Non-building applications include military fleets and weapons platforms, other federal agency fleets, and non-building assets such as electric generation and water transport facilities. In non-civilian applications alone, potential ESPCs were estimated to amount to approximately $1 billion/year from a total project investment of $9.9 billion.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Charles Williams

Technical assistance and review of the Army Corps of Engineers' Energy Savings Performance Contracts Program (2010)

Berkeley Lab assessed the measurement and verification practices and supporting activities for the Army Corps of Engineers' ESPC contract and program. Activities included a site visit to the Army Corps' support staff office, the review of numerous project and policy documents, and recommendations for process improvement.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Charles Williams

Other Projects for DoD

Over the years, Berkeley Lab has helped military agencies reduce energy costs and energy use in military bases, data centers, and laboratories across the nation; and provided special assistance to Congress regarding research on indoor environment threat assessment.

Indoor hazard assessment using the Joint Effects Model (2012-ongoing)

Working for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (the Department of Defense's combat support agency for countering weapons of mass destruction), Berkeley Lab has been conducting indoor environment research on chemical or biological agent exposure using the Joint Effects Model. Berkeley Lab is improving the software, conducting research on how to predict the indoor effects from an outdoor plume, and developing new decision analysis approaches to study hazard assessment problems. The group also conducts research on algorithms for operating sensor networks in buildings to detect and locate hazards in real time, and air filter requirements that are designed to keep hazards out of shelter and other facilities. Their research supports both permanent and temporary facilities.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Michael D. Sohn

Energy assessments of data centers and laboratories (2009-ongoing)

Berkeley Lab provided energy assessments, training, and technical assistance to increase the energy efficiency and operations in data centers and laboratories as part of 15 projects including the Maui High Performance Computing Center, the Defense Enterprise Computing Center, and military bases in Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and Mississippi. All 15 of these project resulted in recommendations that, if implemented, had the potential for an estimated annual energy savings of more than 14,000 MWh, estimated annual reduction of carbon emission by 13,300 metric tons, and simple paybacks of less than 3 years on each project.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Dale Sartor

Energy audits at 10 Navy bases on the West Coast (2004)

Berkeley Lab provided engineering services during energy audits in 49 buildings on 10 Navy installations in the Western Power Grid Region. Berkeley Lab identified measures to reduce energy and demand and conducted scoping and in-depth assessments of the chosen facilities in each installation. The result was a rigorous analysis of project cost, estimated savings, payback, and savings to investment ratio that was detailed in assessment reports for each of the installations, identifying measures estimated to reduce demand by more than 3,000kW and energy savings of $4 million/year if implemented, with an average payback of 4.5 years.

Berkeley Lab Contact: Charles Williams

Berkeley Lab Project History with DoD

DOD Agency Project Date LBNL Contact
All Indoor hazard assessment using the Joint Effects Model 2012-ongoing Michael D. Sohn
All TROPEC program: Lighting, electronics and data center research 2012-ongoing Rich Brown
Navy Integrating energy information systems and model-based diagnostics, at Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. 2012-ongoing Jessica Granderson
Air Force Optimal scheduling of Air Force demonstration plug-in electric vehicles 2012-2014 Chris Marnay
Army Daylighting control technologies demonstration at
Fort Irwin near Barstow Army Base, California
2010-ongoing Francis Rubinstein
Army Technical assistance and review of the Army Corps of Engineers' Energy Savings Performance Contracts program 2010 Charles Williams
Sustainable Federal Operations, FEMP
Various branches Study for Congress on the feasibility of using Energy Savings Performance Contracts in non-building applications 2010 Charles Williams
Sustainable Federal Operations, FEMP
Army, Navy, Air Force Energy assessments of data centers and laboratories 2009-ongoing Dale Sartor
Navy Building-integrated photovoltaics demonstration at Yuma, Arizona Marine Corps Air Station 2009-2011 Ronnen Levinson
Navy Energy efficiency modeling demonstration at Chicago Naval Station 2009-2011 Phil Haves
Navy Site Data Package Template for Energy Conservation Measures 2009-2010 Charles Williams
Navy Energy audits at 10 Navy bases on the West Coast 2004 Charles Williams

Kyra Epstein is a San Francisco Bay area freelance writer.

Kyra Epstein