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Posted 11/16/2012

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By Vince Little
Europe District

WIESBADEN, Germany -- The Air Force has launched a two-year evaluation of facilities and equipment on bases worldwide to gain a clearer picture of energy and space efficiencies within its inventory.

Called a Sustainable Infrastructure Assessment Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led effort is aimed at developing a comprehensive account that will support decision making, financial management and reporting requirements on future capital investments and audits, said Norma Edwards, program manager for the Fort Worth District in Texas, which has lead on the contract for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. About 80 officials from six major subordinate commands around the globe attended a kickoff event Oct. 22 in Fort Worth.

"Our main objective is to provide accurate and reliable data to AFCEC's leadership," she said. "USACE wants to make sure the Air Force has accurate data that will be utilized by their installations to create a capital investment plan. … The goal in Fort Worth was to discuss execution methods and expectations for the program on all six product lines."

They include major studies on space utilization, facility condition, real property installed equipment, real property inventory, high-performance sustainable buildings and a Level II Energy Audit, Edwards said. In addition to complying with Air Force agency audits, the SIAP is being done to help fashion a future years defense program, or FYDP, so planners can address two- and 10-year blueprints.

She said the world map was divided into seven regions to conduct the SIAP. The Europe District is managing the push here alongside U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

Europe District program manager Philip Cohen said it will encompass seven installations in Region 6 -- five in the United Kingdom, along with Moron Air Base, Spain; and Lajes Field, Azores -- and four more in Region 7: Ramstein and Spangdahlem in Germany; Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; and Aviano Air Base, Italy.

"Basically, it's an inventory assessment of all of the Air Force's real-property assets," he said. "These six planning studies get into the broad areas of confirming what real property buildings are on the base, the condition of those facilities and the part that has to do with the energy efficiencies. It's a combination. … Our job is to mobilize the contractor, and we've been coordinating with headquarters USAFE personnel because now we are on the verge of launching the Region 6 contract for the work in England."

Cohen and Kallan Mrozek, the Region 6 project manager for USACE, met with Air Force officials at Mildenhall and Lakenheath in late October. The contractor's team was scheduled to initiate the RPIE phase Nov. 5 on all five installations in the UK. The remaining five planning products will start there just after the new year.

Meanwhile, the Region 7 assessment is expected to begin by the end of January, Cohen said.

"It's all about updating the Air Force's real-property assets to make sure they're current," he said. "In the DoD world, the real-property inventory … directly drives the amount of money they get to maintain those buildings."

USAFE allocated $9.5 million for SIAP, but the possible long-term savings for the Air Force community in Europe is substantial, said Capt. Daniel Harrington, the command's Asset Optimization Branch chief at Ramstein. The service branch as a whole is shifting how it manages installations.

"The tight fiscal climate has driven us to embrace asset-management principles, which asks the question, 'If I was down to my last dollar to maintain Air Force installations, what would I want to invest it on?'" he said. "The only way we can answer that question is if we have an accurate inventory and condition of our facilities. … Once we have that, we will use this information to develop projects for where the investment is needed greatest. The potential savings is considerable by potentially demolishing unnecessary buildings that are underutilized or maintenance hogs."

Cohen said the energy-consumption piece will involve a full analysis as teams measure the current power consumption in each facility.

"The contractor has to go into the mechanical and electrical rooms and make recommendations for corrective action, if any," he said. "How can we make this building consume less energy?"

The energy audits in theater help Air Force officials comply with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which mandates a review of consumers in the top 75 percentile on a four-year cycle, according to Kelly Jaramillo, the USAFE energy manager. The facility condition assessments and RPIE data collection also lay the foundation for prioritizing the replacement or upgrade of key energy-consuming systems.

"We can use this information to build future strategic sourcing contracts that leverage economy of scale and standardize the equipment our craftsmen have to maintain for more efficient repairs and preventive maintenance," she said. "At the end of the day, I hope we are not just participating in a massive data-collection exercise. It is up to all of us to transform this data into information, and ultimately knowledge. Otherwise, we simply have an extra deck of 5-inch binders on a shelf for the next few years."

Harrington said the projects with energy- or water-conservation opportunities identified by the contractor will pay themselves off in a matter of years with utility savings.

The SIAP will last two years and affect more than 90 Air Force bases across all seven regions, officials said. However, Cohen said Europe contractors will move quickly and intend to wrap up the various assessments by the end of 2013.

"This thing is so fast track," he said. "They're looking at literally hundreds, maybe thousands of buildings that all have to be surveyed in one way or another. … At the same time, we do not want to disrupt operations on the bases.

"It's very different in concept. I've never seen the Army even begin to approach this type of thing. On some bases, all this inventory has to be done in 14 days or 21 days. And there's just a vast amount of data that has to be crunched."

USACE's survey mission is to maintain contractor performance, quality assurance and provide lessons learned, Cohen said.

"We're looking for consistency," he added. "We've got to have the same consistent formats worldwide. That's why they also centralized this database we're going to use. … The outcomes will be different, of course. No two bases are alike. But the process itself and the database will all hopefully make for consistent products."

air force air force civil engineer center Europe District fort worth district sustainable infrastructure assessment program