U.S Air Force Calls for Leadership in Facility Operations

Dan Kandy
Strategic plan calls for the reduction of total facility energy consumption by 15% by 2020

The U.S. Air Force uses 64 billion BTUs annually – generating approximately 35 million metric tons of CO2 – and consumes 27 billion gallons of water. This energy and water usage costs the Air Force over $9 billion annually.

Although the majority of that resource and energy consumption is tied to aviation fuel usage, a significant portion comes from maintaining and operating its bases in the U.S., the Pacific, and Europe.  Released earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force Energy Strategic Plan, which builds on and expands a 2010 Energy Strategic Plan, outlines an aggressive plan to improve energy and water efficiency in Air Force facilities. The plan states:

“As part of our effort to continue to integrate energy into day-to-day operations, the Air Force is pursuing a net zero posture for installation energy and water to help achieve the federal goal of zero net energy by 2030 for all new facility construction and alterations.”

While much of the strategic plan is understandably focused on reducing aviation and transport fuel usage, the plan also outlines specific targets for facility efficiency improvements, including:

  • Reduce total facility energy consumption by 15% by 2020 (2010 baseline)
  • Reduce energy intensity by 30% by 2015 (2003 baseline) and 1.5% annually through 2020 (2015 baseline)
  • Ensure 100% of new vertical construction and major renovations meet federal requirements for high performance and sustainable buildings
  • Ensure energy performance remains on track to meet all applicable requirements from laws, regulations, and executive orders
  • Reduce potable water consumption intensity by 26% by 2020 (2007 baseline)
  • Reduce industrial, landscaping, and agricultural water consumption by 20% by 2020 (2010 baseline)
  • Ensure all installed facility electricity, gas, and steam smart meters are integrated with the appropriate computer network by 2016
  • Increase facility consumption of renewable or alternative energy to 25% of total electricity use by 2025
  • Ensure all new buildings are designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030, beginning in 2020

The Air Force is in the process of developing a “strategic, economically sensitive, and integrated approach” to meet these goals, according to the report.

As energy costs continue to increase and government budgets become more fiscally constrained, improving building efficiency at the 59 active bases in the U.S. and other installations here and abroad may provide some of the low-hanging fruit that will help cut resource usage and promote energy security without having to develop expensive new technologies or radically alter operational procedures.


Dan Kandy
Exploring the environmental and climate impact of buildings and the built environment, MPA candidate in Environmental Science & Policy at Columbia

Related resources and references

U.S Air Force Energy Strategic Plan  U.S. Air Force