Increasingly, contractors such as RJC Architects are being asked to think green when they go to work for the Pentagon.
In San Diego County, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps balance military needs with environmental stewardship.
RJC, for example, sweated the details to give two new Navy buildings LEED ratings. Those efforts won project of the year honors from the local chapter of the American Public Works Association.
One of the buildings was John Finn Hall at Naval Base Coronado, a pair of seven-story residential towers built to LEED Gold standards. Another was the U.S. Navy Human Resources Services Center at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which was certified LEED Platinum.
LEED is the U.S. Green Building Council’s program that rates the environmental impact of buildings. The abbreviation stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Out on San Clemente Island, a Navy installation roughly 60 miles due west of La Jolla, the Navy is learning lessons related to wind energy, said Bernie Lindsey, the San Diego-based regional energy program manager for Navy Region Southwest.
Battery Energy Storage
The island has three fairly small wind turbines, each capable of generating 225 kilowatts, or enough energy to power 100 homes. The turbines have been there since the late 1990s.
The turbines supply only an eighth of the island’s energy needs, Lindsey said; diesel generators pick up the slack.
The Navy’s immediate task is to build new turbines at San Nicolas Island, another island off California. The Office of Naval Research is funding a battery for San Nicolas Island to store the wind-generated energy. If that’s successful, Lindsey said, the Navy will consider battery storage for San Clemente Island.
After all, the wind blows only intermittently. “Energy storage is a really big deal,” Lindsey said.
Matthew Schreck, energy and water conservation manager for Coronado’s aircraft depot, sees a day when his facility will have fuel cells.
In the near term, the depot (aka Fleet Readiness Center Southwest) has made improvements to get $800,000 worth of energy rebates from San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Among other things, the depot has found a way to use exhaust fans at the paint shop at a fraction of full power, when appropriate.
The federal government has a goal to reduce energy use per square foot by 3 percent every year, reported Bob Gilleskie, regional energy manager for Marine Corps Installations West. The command serves eight bases in or near California.
The Marines have turned to alternative energy to serve their needs.
At Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the Marines are about to dedicate a second 1.4 megawatt solar energy plant at the Box Canyon landfill, and more could be on its way, Gilleskie said.
The Miramar base has a 3.2 megawatt plant that converts gas from the Miramar landfill into electricity.
Interest in Microgrids
Energy specialists with the military report a growing interest in microgrids among commanders. Two goals of microgrids are energy conservation and self-sufficiency. Lindsey of Naval Region Southwest reported that Power Analytics is the prime contractor on an upcoming microgrid experiment taking place at three Navy bases.
The services are undertaking smaller environmentally friendly initiatives. The Navy Exchange at Naval Base San Diego took a cue from retailers such as Ikea and Target Corp. and opened two electric vehicle charging stations at its store. It’s the first Navy Exchange charging station on the West Coast. The $12,000 Chargepoint facility was not funded with federal tax dollars. Naval Base Coronado may get a similar station soon.
Naval Base Coronado recently received the Military Conservation Partner Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its work preserving endangered species.
The Coronado base takes in eight installations — some not on the peninsula — and 60,000 acres. There are a couple of training facilities in San Diego County’s backcountry; the base also includes San Clemente Island.
One has to strike a balance between conducting Navy operations while protecting plant and animal species, base leaders said.
Animals present on the island include the loggerhead shrike, whose population has grown, according to a base spokesman.