National Guard goes green to conserve energy, cost

A new mission for the New Mexico National Guard Headquarters in Santa Fe, N.M., involves going green.


A new mission for the New Mexico National Guard Headquarters in Santa Fe, N.M., involves going green. National Guard green initiatives to conserve energy and fuel have been around since 2001—including a solar array that provides power for the N.J. Army National Guard’s training center in Wrightstown, N.J., and the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing opening of an alternative energy site in Toledo, Ohio.

"Energy's become one of our top priorities here in the National Guard," said Thomas Gurule, a retired Guard lieutenant colonel who is now its energy manager.

Every building under the military construction program must meet the USGBC’s silver rating. 2% of a building’s cost will be spent to meet the standards, which includes more energy efficient building systems, better windows, doors, and better insulation.

At the Santa Fe, N.M. location, a 43-ft t all white wind turbine stands at the entrance of the headquarters. The turbine needs wins of at least 14 mph to function and it is operable in winds up to 200 mph. During the first month of operation, Dec. to Jan., the turbine functioned at 25% efficiency. The turbine generates 300 to 400 kW a month, which is enough power to meet half the needs of an average home. The turbine is the state’s largest utility. The electricity goes into the energy grid and the National Guard receives credit on its electric bill. Additionally, solar tubes supply half the lighting needs at one of the Guard’s buildings and a quarter of the needs at the two others.

The New Mexico Guard pushes an energy reduction guide that recommends turning off computers, printers, copiers, televisions, and other electronics at night. The electric bill dropped from $53,988 for October 2007 to $41,944 for October 2008. Total utility costs, including for natural gas, water, and refuse, dropped from $96,457 in October 2007 to $70,126 in October 2008.

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