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NEWPORT, R.I.—As part of a Department of Defense “green” initiative, Reserve Seabees streamlined workspace lighting and installed motion sensors that can turn lights on and off in the library at the Naval War College (NWC) in early August.
 
The installations came after a group of University of Rhode Island (URI) students audited NWC buildings for energy use and made energy-saving plans accordingly, which they constantly update and revise.
 
NEWPORT, R.I. (August 5, 2010) A Reserve Seabee from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion of the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, based in Newport, installs motion sensors in the Naval War College library.  Sensors were installed in a section of the library as part of the NWC Energy Team's efforts to conserve electricity and reduce costs. (Photo by Shelby Richardson)The URI Energy Team developed short, medium and long-term goals and the motion sensors represent implementation of the medium-term phase of their plans. Construction Electrician 1st Class Morse, Construction Electrician 1st Class Nigro, Construction Electrician 2nd Class McElroy and Construction Electrician 2nd Class Bashaw, part of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion of the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, installed the motion sensors and equipment. The command is based in Newport.
 
The sensors are among bookshelves in the cavernous basement of the library and help reduce lighting costs. In addition to monetary savings, such reductions in energy help promote a greener environment and in the big picture, independence from foreign energy sources.
 
“What we’re doing is getting at the low-hanging fruit, so to speak,” said NWC facilities engineer Shawn Bogdan. The motion sensors are just one among many projects Naval Station Newport and the War College are implementing to save energy and taxpayer dollars.
 
The URI students said the motion sensors reduce costs from about $8,500 to about $200 a year.
 
“We get incredible savings here because the sensors allow book stack lighting to remain off during hours when the stacks see less foot traffic, like lunch hours and evenings,” said URI Energy Team member Matt Siler while walking through the library basement. Modern sensors are also more efficient than traditional time clocks, which may not compensate for holidays and other times when spaces may remain vacant.
 
Areas of the college where lights were on for long periods of time while unoccupied were a main focus of the URI energy team’s investigations. Using data logging tools, the URI students were able to maintain spaces’ lighting and occupancy patterns. As the motion sensor library project comes to a close, the team looks forward to completing their work in the library and moving to other lighting projects.
 
NWC is working in several of its buildings to meet the DOD initiative of cutting electricity consumption by 30 percent of 2003 levels by 2015. 
 
“It’s not all about lighting, though,” Siler said.
 
The War College is also finalizing plans to install a small wind turbine, and the URI students have been researching NWC’s potential for solar projects, such as solar photovoltaics and geothermal heat pumps, a modern tool that uses the temperature of soil beneath the ground to help heat and cool buildings. In other locations, the War College has encouraged replacing individual microwaves, refrigerators and printers with office or communal refrigerators and networking for shared printers. “Anything we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, that’s the key here,” Bogdan said.
 
In addition to reduced energy use, Bogdan said consolidation saves more money through maintenance costs. Less refrigerators, printers and microwaves means less mechanical problems, and supplies can be consolidated as well.
 
“Instead of buying five different print cartridges, we only have to buy one,” Bogdan said.
 
The War College and the Navy continue to seek methods and new technology to reduce energy consumption.
 
By Tyler Will, NWC Public Affairs