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139th Airlift Wing going green this Summer - One of top 5% energy savers

Solar panels were installed on various buildings at the 139th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Major Barb Denny) (RELEASED)

Solar panels were installed on various buildings at the 139th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Major Barb Denny) (RELEASED)

St. Joseph -- Rosecrans is humming this summer and the noise isn't coming from C-130s.
Construction trucks, cranes, and forklifts are scurrying around the 139th Airlift Wing, trying to complete more than a half dozen projects.
A majority of the construction centers around energy savings and the work is already paying dividends in lower utility bills. It's estimated the unit lowered natural gas consumption last winter by 35 per cent, based on 2005 gas bills. The 139th Airlift Wing ranks in the top 5 per cent of all guard bases in terms of energy savings efforts, according to base civil engineering officials. The savings are coming from "going green" initiatives mandated by the National Guard Bureau and by Presidential mandate.
   "I've been in civil engineering and environmental for 14 years and this year's construction schedule is second only to flood recovery efforts in 1995 and 1996," said Construction Project Manager Doug Cerra. "For example, we received $1.795 million in SRM (sustainment, restoration, and modernization) money in 2008. This year we've received $3.35 million."
   Federal stimulus money has already covered the $488,862 project at building 16 - the engine shop. A rooftop solar grid will generate 30-thousand kilowatts at peak output. That will save up to 80 per cent of the building's electrical consumption, or roughly $10,000 a year. Other work includes replacing the heating, ventilation, and cooling systems and the boilers. "We had a feeling Rosecrans would be getting stimulus money so we had at least six projects on the shelf ready to go," added Cerra.
   Solar grids will also be installed on the civil engineering building. The grids, at peak summertime efficiency, will generate 40-thousand kilowatts and save around 70 per cent of the building's electrical needs. Solar grids at the operations building will be accompanied by new air handlers, duct-work modification, and boiler work. Cerra estimates 60 per cent of the building's power use will be saved. The base administration building will also receive solar grids that are expected to generate 40-thousand kilowatts. The grids, along with a new HVAC system, air handlers, and boiler work should save 50 per cent of the building's electrical bill.
   While most of the construction this summer centers around energy conservation, regular military construction is also underway. Cerra and Tony Bahr, another construction project manager, are working on phase one of the multimillion dollar firehouse project. Work continues on a 900 square foot addition to the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron building. "As busy as we are, the contracting office is worse," said Cerra. "They are the unsung heroes because they are the only people on the base who can obligate funds. It's an extremely busy year."