HRC reduces major electric consumption footprint

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A team of energy experts has been quietly transforming Fort Knox one building at a time.

The latest testament to their efforts is revealed at U.S. Army Human Resources Command, where the 900,000 sq. ft. Maude Complex’s energy footprint is being drastically reduced, again.

“We are the [Energy Savings Performance Contract] contractor doing energy upgrades on Fort Knox,” said Benjamin Williams, the project manager at Fort Knox for CEG Solutions.

The team has been awarded 117 buildings and 147 heating and cooling mechanical upgrades for energy reduction across the installation. Each building has its own set of needs to contend with and therefore its own set of energy saving measures planned, said Williams.

For the HRC building, they focused on energy reduction of its lighting and the data center.

The Maude Complex has already been the source of praise for its energy efficiency, winning five bronze Energy Star plaques in May 2015 for reducing its energy footprint by almost 50 percent five years following the building’s establishment in 2010.

“There are very few facilities in the Army that can claim the level of energy reliability, security and redundancy the Maude Complex provides for HRC. This is a testament to the truly outstanding partnership between Fort Knox and HRC,” said Brig. Gen. Barbara Owens, the HRC deputy commanding general back in 2015.

Up first: Phase 1

Fast-forward two years later, Army officials found that fluorescent lighting throughout the building was consuming a large amount of energy, especially as whole floors stayed lit both day and night. Another area of concern was the data center, where the cooling systems were working overtime to keep computers from overheating.

After working up a detailed feasibility study to determine what energy saving measures to implement, CEG Solutions kicked off the first phase of the HRC project in May 2017. One year later, the numbers in cooling usage just for the data center alone have greatly improved, according to Glen Phillips, HVAC controls project manager at Harshaw Trane.

The kilowatt hours per day that the center was using to cool the center averaged about 9,000 before they upgraded the HVAC system with smart cooling devices. By the beginning of June this year, that number had dropped to below 3,000, and is continuing to drop.

“We do these all the time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that,” said Phillips. “That’s pretty drastic.”

Williams said the efficiency measures that they implement are highly appealing to the Army.

“We come in, we do the design as we say, we do the implementation for all the [energy saving measures] that get accepted, and we do it at no cost to the customer,” said Williams. “The Army did not front any of the costs for us to do all this work, so all the upgrades that HRC is getting, they got at no cost to them.”

Williams explained that they are in turn are paid a percentage from the cost reductions, providing a win-win for all involved while saving taxpayers countless dollars.

Up next: Phase 2.

The team is investigating more ways to save energy at HRC, including upgrades to wall mounted exterior lighting, internal pressurization issues that are damaging ceilings and preventing doors from closing, and energy losses coming from the rooftops.

Another area the team is investigating is an Army mandate to reduce the number of data centers and establish enduring data centers. Williams said Fort Knox has been selected as the site to establish the first one.

“They know they’re going to be here for the next hundred years,” said Williams, “so thinking that far out is a long-term gain that they can invest in.”

For a visual example of how HRC lighting was reduced, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRwu1rwhOuw. n