NAVAIR

China Lake engineers find ways to save energy

Ryan Hunter, a systems engineer in the NAWCWD Weapons and Energetics Department, works in his office at the China Lake Propulsion Laboratory with the lights off using the abundance of available, natural lighting which reduces energy consumption and saves the government money. (U.S. Navy photo)

Ryan Hunter, a systems engineer in the NAWCWD Weapons and Energetics Department, works in his office at the China Lake Propulsion Laboratory with the lights off using the abundance of available, natural lighting which reduces energy consumption and saves the government money. (U.S. Navy photo)

Dec 19, 2012

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CHINA LAKE, Calif. -- Two years ago, a light bulb went off for Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division systems engineer Ryan Hunter; actually, he turned off all the lights in his office.

When Hunter, an energy-conscious employee in the NAWCWD Weapons and Energetics Department, moved into Building 11030 at the China Lake Propulsion Laboratory with about 10 other engineers in the Propulsion Technologies and Power Systems Branch, he realized he could help save energy by working with the lights off.

“Hunter and his colleagues are a great example of how each of us at NAVAIR can have an impact by doing something as simple as turning the lights off and relying on natural lighting,” said Bill Cords, Director, NAVAIR Infrastructure Business Office and NAVAIR Energy Team (NET) lead of the Facilities and Infrastructure pillar.

The NET encourages employees to take responsibility for his or her energy consumption in their work space or work center. “While not every solution will work at every location, we need to share what each of us is doing,” Cords said.

The branch performs rocket motor assembly and testing in separate facility and uses Building 11030 for general office work like reading email and computer analysis. Hunter said it was easy to convince his co-workers to leave the lights off while in the office building.

“Every office has windows and there is so much natural light,” he said. “There is really no reason to work with the lights on except in the early mornings or late evenings. And then, we use the smaller desk lamps if needed.”

Hunter said he has no way of knowing how much money his branch has saved during the last two years but the personal reward is enough for him.

“It’s gratifying to know that I’m doing my part to help the environment, and save energy and money,” said Hunter, a Ridgecrest, Calif., native who has watched the price of power rise and expects the potential for rolling brownouts to increase. A rolling brownout is a partial, temporary reduction in system voltage deliberately produced by energy providers as an emergency measure to prevent the system from failing completely (blacking out).

“One way to help is to limit the amount of energy we each use,” he said. “When you are at home, you turn off lights that you don’t use. That should also apply at work.”

The branch has found other ways of saving energy including minimal use of air conditioning, relying on evaporative cooling about 90 percent of the time. Evaporative cooling uses a device that cools air through the evaporation of water rather than the typical air conditioning systems which use vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycles. Members of the branch also make every effort to carpool when they have to travel across the base to another work location.

Noting the recent energy-awareness projects at China Lake like the installation of a solar field, and xeriscaping at the administration building, Hunter said he was seeking a way for individuals to contribute from their own workspaces.

“I figure, even the little things we can each do are helpful,” he said. Xeriscaping refers to landscaping in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation.

Hunter, who came to NAWCWD in 2003 as a co-op student, said his advice to others is to be mindful of when they are using energy and when they aren’t.

“If you don’t need to use it, why waste it?” he said. “If we are all aware of that, it will be good for everybody.”

The NET is looking for more examples of how NAVAIR employees at each site are conserving energy and finding innovative solutions. Send your stories to the NET at navairpao@navy.mil.

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