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Upgrades conserve energy, save money

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Contractors from Florida Power and Light are upgrading Patrick AFB's heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. 

Overseen by the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, these upgrades are the first part of a multi-phase plan to make Patrick more energy efficient. 

Begun in September 2006, the upgrades will affect 18 buildings in the 500 block of the base upon their completion, slated for December. 

The work is being done on two "chiller loops," which provide chilled water to the buildings' air conditioning units. Currently, one loop has seven chillers and the other four. Both loops are being downsized to two chillers each. 

"The chiller loop system allows us to use larger, more efficient air conditioning units to feed several buildings instead of using smaller inefficient units feeding a single building," said Patrick Beverly, 45th CES, project manager. 

In addition, the energy control management system for each of the buildings is being updated to current software standards. This will allow HVAC staff to monitor and control temperature set points, compensate for reduced use at night and even shut the system off completely. 

"We're making it cheaper to run and more efficient," said Robert Murphy, chief of the HVAC Office. 

The heating system is being modified, too. When Patrick first opened, a central steam plant supplied heat and hot water to all buildings. Over the years, the need for the plant diminished and now it only operates for heating when temperatures dip below 45 degrees. This raises the cost for heating for the few buildings it serves, said Mr. Beverly. 

The current project will replace the heating source for the buildings, allowing for the plant to be decommissioned. In addition, the building housing the plant was condemned and a $500,000 project is set to demolish it. 

The upgrades and modifications should save Patrick about two million kilowatt hours per year at a savings of $259,509 at current rates.