Navy And Air Force Are Season Two Teams in Better Buildings Challenge Swap

The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Energy has launched season two of its Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, featuring the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy. Both military operations swap energy teams to improve the energy efficiency of each one’s campus. (To read about season one and view videos, see retrofit’s March-April 2016 issue, page 52.)

“The Better Buildings Challenge SWAP has really helped reach those who can make our nation’s buildings better and their energy bills smaller,” says Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency. “The reality style of the show combined with opportunities to go behind-the-scenes with some of our nation’s most respected organizations and energy leaders brings a fresh new light to energy-efficiency efforts in U.S. buildings.”

The web series covers a two-day swap at each campus. The teams learn from each other that they can apply simple behavioral changes to help students and faculty be more mindful about lighting usage and plug loads in classrooms when not in use.

For example, the U.S. Naval Academy demonstrates how it improved the heating and cooling system for its student housing (the world’s largest dorm) and how flat, flexible solar panels still allow the beauty of the academy’s historic buildings to shine through.

“We operate a wide range of buildings, and many of them are historic—more than 100 years old,” explains Jabe Nekula, Public Works Department, Naval Academy. “It’s a challenge for us to maintain the historic appearance of our buildings while integrating new technologies to provide better energy savings. We came away from the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP with valuable recommendations and energy-saving solutions that work for our older buildings.”

The U.S. Air Force discovers new ideas to make its old, single-pane windows more energy efficient and finds energy improvements in the kitchen, such as adjusting refrigerators to be more efficient and turning off fans or closing warmer doors when not needed.

“SWAP offers a fresh set of eyes, and in this case, from a sister service with a shared mission,” adds Colonel John Christ, U.S. Air Force Academy. “Often, as engineers, we will just install LED lights and move on to the next project. This experience has shown us the powerful energy-saving potential of behavior change among our cadets and our faculty, and we’ll be taking that next step in the future.”

Through the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, DOE is helping commercial and industrial organizations successfully explore and share new ways to reduce energy use by their organizations.

View the full Better Building SWAP series and recommendations from this season or learn more about the department’s role in advancing energy efficiency in U.S. buildings.

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