Changing landscape

  • Published
  • By Stephen Matthews
  • 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer
Major changes to the landscape of McConnell have occurred over the past couple of weeks. As you travel across the installation, you may notice that both the golf course clubhouse and bank have been demolished. A normal reaction would be, "Why are they doing this?" The simple answer is that the Air Force can no longer afford to continue operating as it has in the past in the face of declining budgets.

The Air Force has focused on reducing energy consumption across its portfolio for over a decade.

During the last 17 years, Air Force energy consumption has decreased 35 percent, yet utility costs have increased 92 percent during that same period. The fiscal year 2011, the facility energy price tag was $579 million lower than it would have been had the Air Force had not invested in energy conservation over the last 15 years. That bill is the equivalent of approximately 16 F-35s Lightning II, or closer to home, fully-funding the Continental Group Housing Privatization Project that includes the McConnell housing community.

You may have already noticed that our facilities are no longer cooled to iceberg conditions. I know some of you think that we don't cool them at all. McConnell's facility energy management policy directs facility temperatures to be maintained at 76F during the cooling season, and 68F during the heating season for administrative spaces on base. While these changes take some time getting used to, these decisions are saving the Air Force money, which in turn allows the Air Force to spend that saved dollar on the right thing, at the right place, at the right time.

Reducing energy is everyone's responsibility. Sacrificing some creature comforts is just a small step that Airmen can take in making sure energy is a consideration in all we do.

What can the McConnell community expect to see next?

A continued focus will be on right-sizing the installation to align with the shrinking force structure. We continue to target older, inefficient buildings for demolition and consolidating functions into more efficient buildings. Building 804, the former thrift shop and Airmen's attic facility, will be demolished before the end of this year. Those functions have been relocated to other facilities that better meet both their size requirements as well as the installation development plan zone concept.

The crown jewel of McConnell's demolition program involves the demolition of Building 1090. This facility represents approximately 7 percent of the installation's overall footprint. A 4-phase, $19 million program was recently awarded and the demolition of 1090 will be the last domino to fall under the contract. It is expected that the facility will be fully demolished in 2014.