Turning the 183rd Air Force Blue, Green

  • Published
  • By 183rd Civil Engineering Squadron
The 183rd Fighter Wing's Air Force Blue is going Green....Green Energy that is. When the Airmen of the 183rd Fighter Wing tell people they are "going green," they are talking
about Green Energy. The Illinois Air National Guard Base at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport is one of the first out of over 500 Department of Defense installations in the United States and the first military installation out of the 52 in the State of Illinois to have 100 percent of its power coming from renewable "green" energy sources.

Although the wing is leading the way for the Department of Defense, the 183rd Fighter Wing refuses to rest on its successes. With an immediate goal of reducing the base's energy footprint 30% by 2015, the wing has already reduced its energy consumption by 15% over the past three years and continues to look at ways to not only reduce energy consumption, but explore other renewable energy methods as well. "The Illinois National Guard has always been a leader in environmental stewardship," said Col. Michael Meyer, 183rd Fighter Wing Commander. "Being energy conscious and being a good steward of this nation's resources has become a part of the Wing's culture and it is second nature for our Airmen."

Currently, the 183rd Fighter Wing has a partnership with a local energy company, Springfield City Water, Light, and Power (CWLP), and purchases all of its energy from renewable energy sources. This means the 3.5 million kilowatt-hours consumed at the base each year won't be coming from traditional power plants that emit environmentally harmful pollutants.  Instead the power that runs the base comes from renewable energy sources like wind driven turbines and solar collector panels.

"The wing has completed several projects over the past couple years and has several on-going projects that have significantly reduced the base's carbon footprint" said Lt. Col. Chuck Coderko, Base Civil Engineer.  Over the past three years the wing has partnered with local engineering firms and construction contractors to upgrade its facilities with new high efficiency heating and cooling systems, energy efficient water heater systems, lighting systems, and most importantly upgrading and sealing up its building envelopes to stop unwanted energy loss. Over the next couple years the wing has roughly $34 million in construction projects planned. Several of these projects are complete facility renovations and are designed to achieve Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certifications from the US Green Building Council.

The new missions at the 183rd have brought growth and a very bright future for our guardsmen and these projects go hand-in-hand with the Illinois National Guard's plans to promote environmental stewardship as it modernizes its force. "As public servants we need to be smart and vigilant stewards of the resources and environment entrusted to us," said Col. Stephen Baggerly, 183rd Mission Support Group Commander. "The initiative to go green and reduce our environmental impact is a big part of our strategy."

In addition to using renewable energy, Capt. Bob Mitchell, the Commander of the wing's civil engineering squadron is busy researching, planning and implementing many
different projects that will reduce the amount of energy consumed at the base. "The civil engineering staff has installed smart metering in almost all of its main facilities across
the base. These meters monitor all the electric, water, and gas usage around-the-clock to provide data on how to efficiently govern energy and utilities. Although a large part of energy savings is replacing hardware, it's also about changing our behavior and how we use our resources. With those two ingredients, the wing is leading the way and doing its part in preserving resources for generations to come," said Capt. Mitchell.

One of the larger projects being explored is the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures on base. LED fixtures may be the future of energy efficient lighting as Airmen at the base overhaul fighter aircraft engines and support air operations for U.S. Southern Command. Currently a fluorescent light bank costs approximately $68 per year to operate while a new LED bank operates annually on approximately $12. The lights are just as bright as or brighter than traditional light fixtures and operate on 60 percent less energy. With the amount of lighting required to safely complete the mission, the cost savings in the long run may significantly lower the base's daily operating cost to the tax payer. Col. Meyer added, "One of the Air Force Core Values is 'Excellence in all we do". Reducing our energy consumption and providing more economically affordable force to the community is part of that core value and it is simply the right thing to do."