HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Resource Efficiency Manager Program not only continued to deliver the program, but exceeded energy savings goals for the 88th Readiness Division throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Huntsville Center’s REM program trains and helps establish Resource Efficiency Managers at installations who then identify projects and practices to reduce energy and water costs. These REMs provide vital expertise to develop site energy plans encompassing projects that achieve sustainable, renewable, secure, resilient energy management.
Rachel Kemper, REM for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 88th RD, headquartered on Fort McCoy, Wis., has been teleworking exclusively since March. REMs like Kemper are the “energy boots on the ground” assisting energy managers to increase energy awareness and collecting data for reporting site energy management.
The 88th RD provides services and Base Operations Support to 277 sites across 19 states in the northwestern U.S. from the Ohio River Valley to the Pacific Coast, providing numerous and varied opportunities for energy savings.
With 579 facilities totaling more than 10 million square feet of facility space, Kemper had planned on visiting many of the sites since she took the REM job in September.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March and travel restrictions were put in place, Kemper’s plan had to change.
“We’ve had to be more creative to accomplish some of our goals,” Kemper said.
Since implementation of maximum telework in March, Kemper completed desk audits of sites that have not had a physical in-person audit in a number of years.
Desk audits include reviews of energy usage history, preferably over numerous years, to identify any changes in usage.
“Any increase in usage could indicate an energy issue that can be further investigated,” she said.
Kemper’s desk audits identified the potential energy savings of nearly $150,000 annually. This amounts to approximately 2.5 percent savings of the 88th RD energy costs. The primary areas for savings included upgrading the LED lighting, re-tuning building controls (temperature and ventilation rates) and replacing the heating and cooling equipment with high efficiency equipment.
Kemper also gathered and reviewed current equipment reports to verify that the equipment is operating at optimal functionality.
However effective Kemper has been over the last months monitoring energy usage, she plans to conduct onsite visits once the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
“Reviewing the documentation prior to making site visits will allow focus areas at each site to be on the forefront,” she said.
Working from home, Kemper has also conducted closer reviews of energy bills for excess fees, taxes or additional charges. During her reviews a number of bills were found to have tax fee charges.
“These bills are in the process of being investigated through contacting the utility companies,” she said.
“Many sites aren’t aware that tax fees can be negotiated and removed,” she added. “A review of prior year bills often finds substantial savings for the government.”
Kemper’s reviews of energy bills can identify taxes, fees or incorrect utility rates. Correcting a poorly chosen electric rate can save upwards of 10 percent of the bill, she said, and state and city taxes can add 6 to 8 percent to a utility bill.
The bill review so far has identified a total of 15 bills with additional fees to be negotiated, Kemper said.
An additional goal Kemper has been working on is assembling an energy usage dashboard to more effortlessly compile the consumption data for analysis and siting trends.
Each REM often has multiple areas of responsibility, and a dashboard will allow for combining, comparing and analyzing data at one location.
Andrew N. Nimitz, Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate’s energy program manager said he’s pleased with the dedication of Huntsville Center’s REMs as they are an integral part of the energy and water efforts across USAR installations, all of which fall under one of four geographic Readiness Divisions.
“They contribute their time, skills, and knowledge to the development of Energy and Utility Modernization projects, Energy Resilience and Conservation Program projects, the Enterprise Building Control System program, and more,” Nimitz said.