Turning up the heat on JBER
Airmen from the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron are preparing for the coming winter months by readying heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC).
A change in weather patterns can occur rapidly, making HVAC operations critical to mission accomplishment. During this time, civil engineers will be out and about ensuring HVAC systems are adequately prepared for full-time operations.
Although the weather is cooling down, engineers do not have a predetermined date for the heat to be turned on.
“We do not usually tie heating system turn-on to a specific date,” William Farabaugh, 773rd CES chief of infrastructure, said. “773rd CES personnel and our contractor partners start to turn on heat systems when the daily low temperature is at or below 40 degrees for three days straight.
“According to data recorded by the National Weather Service, this normally occurs around Sept. 24. Buildings such as dormitories, day care centers and buildings with 24-hour operations may be turned on as early as the Sept. 15, depending on weather patterns and cooler temperatures,” Farabaugh said.
In preparation for the heat to be turned on, Farabaugh recommended units be prepared to allow access to facilities and ready to move furniture or cubicles in the way of heating equipment.
After the heat is on, he said to be vigilant of possible leaks or unusual noises from heating equipment and report findings to 773rd CES customer service.
Due to the number of facilities on JBER and the civil engineer’s work volume, it may take time before turning the heat on in certain buildings.
“It usually takes from five to 10 days to bring all heating systems fully online,” Farabaugh said. “There are 370 boiler systems on the installation that must be started up after summer maintenance and repairs.”
Once the systems are operational, optimal temperatures must be maintained in accordance with policy.
“According to the wing commander’s letter on energy, in administrative spaces, thermostats should be set no higher than 70 degrees during duty hours, and not higher than 65 degrees during off-duty hours,” Farabaugh said. “In industrial areas, building thermostats need to be set no higher than 65 degrees.”
JBER residents can also save energy at home by using thermostats judiciously.
“When at home, it is recommended to set thermostats at 69 degrees when the home is occupied, lowering the settings to 65 degrees at night and when you are away from home,” Farabaugh said.
Other facilities are controlled and maintained by engineers via remote control.
“One hundred fifty four base facilities are monitored and controlled by an energy monitor control system. An HVAC, or controls technician monitors this system remotely in our EMCS control center,” Farabaugh said. “This system automatically enables heating systems in equipped facilities to meet heating requirements and energy savings.”
EMCS has the capability to reduce HVAC costs and save the Air Force money in the long run, Farabaugh said.
“In four years, this system has saved $3 million through occupancy scheduling,” he said. “We work with facility managers to determine duty schedules in particular buildings and automatically adjust thermostats to provide warm temperatures when buildings are occupied, then reduce settings after normal duty hours to obtain optimum energy savings.
“If contingencies occur, we can bring heat systems fully online with a global command to allow for changes in duty hours,” Farabaugh said.