Steam leaks, pipe breaks and other maintenance issues soon could be a thing of the past, at least when it comes to heating 70 buildings at Tinker Air Force Base.
Base officials Tuesday celebrated an $80.6 million partnership with Minneapolis-based Honeywell Building Solutions to upgrade the heating system.
The improvements are expected to save the base more than $170 million over 20 years. The base also annually will reduce its water usage by about 20 million gallons and its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 million pounds, or about the same as removing 6,100 cars from the roads.
“This project signifies our commitment to energy reduction and our growing drive to reduce the cost of sustaining our heating systems while at the same time providing an effective operating base for our strategic partners,” said Col. Steven Bleymaier, the 72nd Air Base Wing and Installation commander at Tinker.
Four centralized boiler plants now distribute steam to 70 buildings throughout the base. Most of the pipes are underground, but they often leak heat and steam. On cold days, steam often can be seen rising from the ground around the pipes.
The pipes regularly break or otherwise require maintenance.
Honeywell is working to replace the centralized heating system with smaller, more efficient heaters in each of the buildings.
“This one project will save 27 percent of the base's energy usage,” Honeywell President Paul Orzeske said. “With the second phase project, we'll be well on our way to meeting the 30 percent savings target set by presidential executive order.”
The energy-efficiency effort is likely to become a model for the rest of the military, Bleymaier said.
“This is a real success story,” he said. “Multiple Air Force offices, the Department of Energy and the private sector all are working together to tackle a major issue for our military and Tinker Air Force Base.
Tinker is the No. 1 energy user in the Air Force.
“That's a No. 1 we don't want,” Bleymaier said. “This effort will help us lose that notorious title.”
As part of the project, affected buildings will receive advanced metering and monitoring systems, which will help base officials monitor the base's energy savings.
“We're not doing this just for energy's sake,” Bleymaier said. “Ultimately our mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, and our job at Tinker is to provide our war fighters with the capabilities they need to win.
“When we're able to reduce the amount of energy we use and the amount of money we're spending on energy, that's money that we can use in a better way.”