TRG makes strides in energy conservation

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Saving the world starts with just one step. 

The U.S. government took one step toward increased protection of the environment and the economy in the form of energy conservation legislation. 

Another step was taken by the 30th Space Wing when leadership created an Energy Management Plan. 

Now the 381st Training Group here is continuing the charge by taking a hard look at its energy usage and developing plans to lower those numbers. It's a long road ahead, but the group understands that it has to start somewhere. 

It began at the end of 2007 when the training group put together a team of energy management representatives for each squadron. Each manager was then tasked to do an energy audit of their squadron's facilities. 

"Working with Brad King (the 30th SW energy manager) and leadership, we identified any problems that we could fix," said Capt. Christopher Hughes, the energy manager for the 381st TRG. "We broke it down into no-cost, low-cost and high-cost initiatives." 

The energy managers worked on implementing the no-cost initiatives first. These included easy and obvious fixes such using ambient lighting where possible, cutting back on the use of heating and air conditioning and keeping lights off in little-used rooms. 

"It was just a change of culture," Captain Hughes said. "We did all that just as soon as we could." 

One of the big no-cost initiatives was ridding cubicles and offices of individual refrigerators and portable heaters. Those devices draw large, constant amounts of energy. 

Another no-cost initiative is energy management training for new flight commanders. 

"Any time someone's expected to move up and become a flight commander, they have to take a course specific to our group," Captain Hughes said. "Right now we're just giving them the basics - this is why we're doing it and this is why it's important. There's an energy management checklist that each of them will have and they're going to have their work area comply with that." 

Next on the group's agenda are the low-cost initiatives. These include changing out lighting fixtures and installing motion-detector light switches. 

"The biggest thing that's going to make a difference is changing out light fixtures and light bulbs," Captain Hughes said. "That's going to save a lot of money because a lot of the buildings here have old light fixtures." 

While the no- and low-cost initiatives are already being worked, the high-cost initiatives will take more time. These include big ideas such as solar power panels and tankless water heaters. Research has to be done to figure out the cost of implementing the idea versus the money saved. 

No matter if it's shutting off a light or taking power from the sun, saving energy, and in turn saving valuable resources, begins with one small step. The 381st TRG has done that and more. 

"They are being very active about energy conservation, which will help make it a strong program," Mr. King said. "All other units can learn from what they are doing."