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Posted 4/28/2015

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By Julia Bobick
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville

The Army’s resource efficiency managers come with a variety of skill sets and experience, but one thing they all have in common is a passion for energy – energy efficiency, energy management, energy conservation, renewable energy and pretty much anything energy-related.

That passion ignited lively conversation and information exchange during the Army’s first Resource Efficiency Manager (REM) Workshop April 15-17 on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, which manages the REM program, hosted the event to enhance the knowledge base of the growing network of REMs across the Army and Army Reserve.

“We have to be passionate every day about energy; if we are, we’ll get our installations where they need to be on the path toward – and ultimately achieving – Net Zero,” said Karen Moore, Huntsville Center’s REM program manager for the past year and a half.

The workshop highlighted various tools in Huntsville Center’s Energy Division toolbox, as well as the many other resources available within the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to help installations achieve federal energy reduction mandates.

“The Huntsville Center manages execution for various Army energy programs and has the unique perspective of seeing how these programs interplay and how to leverage them optimally – these programs are really synergistic,” said Paul Robinson, Huntsville Center Energy Division chief. “I envision REMs as the ‘tip of the spear’ and as a critical set of eyes and ears in direct support of Army units and DPWs. It was our intended purpose to educate and empower REMs to understand the various energy programs and tools available and how to leverage them. Meeting the Army’s challenging energy goals and getting to Net Zero will require a holistic and multi-dimensional approach.”

Energy conservation isn't new to installations. However, to get installations to the next level of energy management, they must move past the initial “low-hanging fruit” projects that were easy to identify and complete, and tackle more impactful projects, according to Jeff Watts, energy planning and outreach branch chief in Huntsville Center’s Energy Division. But it can be complicated to navigate through all the options to identify the best opportunities without a holistic approach to planning.

A big challenge for a new REM can be deciding where to begin. “You can’t always start with the big, fun sexy projects like solar arrays,” said Sean Svendsen, the REM since 2010 at Dugway Proving Ground, a U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command installation southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.

In the eight months since becoming a REM for the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Steve Chaffin has been establishing the baseline steam and electricity consumption for the command’s approximately 1.9 million square feet of facilities on Redstone Arsenal. “You can’t do projects on what you can’t measure,” he said.

Chaffin, whose background is in utilities, said the command is defining several bundled energy upgrades for its facilities and implementing Utility Energy Services Contract projects for three AMRDEC buildings expected to save about $106,000 a year. “This workshop has been a big help in developing a path forward for AMRDEC,” Chaffin said.

“Every installation you go to is different, every energy challenge is different, and every energy program you walk into is all over the map,” said Jeff Weissman, vice president of operations for M.C. Fuhrman and Associates (MCFA), one of the four companies in the REM program contract pool. A retired colonel, Weissman said he used every tool in Huntsville Center’s Energy Division toolbox during his three years as a garrison commander. “Everything you can do to educate your commanders about the tools and resources available to them will better help you help them achieve their energy goals.”

Networking is the key to getting things done, according to Svendsen.

“We’ve been very successful because of all the support we get and tapping into the resources available inside and outside our installation,” Svendsen said. Being able to modernize aging infrastructure, implement renewable energy projects and bring it all together “has really been a ball, and I’m still learning new things we can do. I love this job.”

Huntsville Center developed the workshop to not only share best practices among the REMs, but also help them better understand the wide variety of tools available to assist them in achieving their goals. Workshop topics ran the gamut from third-party financing, utility cost reduction and energy audit programs to cost engineering, energy security, energy information management and measurement and verification. Presenters came from the Army Reserve, Army Materiel Command, Huntsville Center, Sacramento and Fort Worth Corps of Engineers districts, Fort Hunter Liggett, Pojoaque Pueblo Service, Idaho National Laboratory, and the Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.

About the REM program:

The Resource Efficiency Manager (REM) program provides a contracted subject matter expert who identifies best practices and programs to more effectively manage energy, water and waste and enhance energy security at federal installations. Huntsville Center has an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Multiple Award Task Order Contract with a pool of four contract companies (Chadux/Tetra Tech JV, Erica Lane Enterprises Inc., M.C. Fuhrman and Associates (MCFA) and Sain Engineering Associates Inc.) available to any federal agency and the Army land-holding commands. Task orders are competed among the pool to ensure the most value to the agency. Providing a self-sustaining service, each contracted REM must identify savings opportunities that offset the cost of the service, and USACE districts monitor their performance to enhance quality assurance.

During fiscal year 2014, Huntsville Center nearly doubled the REM program – there are now more than 30 REMs in units and installations across the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard, as well as two REMs at Installation Management Command headquarters who provide support across the Army’s continental U.S. garrisons. 

Energy Net Zero REM resource efficiency manager