In the early 2000s, MacDill AFB saw an exponential increase in both personnel and electronic equipment due to its instrumental role in the war against terror. As a result, energy consumption skyrocketed, leading to increased operational costs for the Department of Defense. To combat this growing crisis, leadership at MacDill AFB partnered with the Akima portfolio of companies to implement new energy savings tools with a goal of reducing consumption by at least one percent annually.
One of the first challenges that the Akima team faced was getting an accurate picture of energy consumption across the base. They knew that usage had been steadily rising for several years; however,
existing power meters didn’t provide the ability to pinpoint exact locations of high consumption. Understanding that the problem couldn’t be solved without first being fully identified, the Akima team
implemented a network of “smart meters” throughout MacDill. These smart meters leveraged novel and
encrypted wireless technology and were placed on every building with people and active missions. For a
year the Akima team gathered data to form a holistic energy consumption dashboard that would eventually drive big changes from unit leadership.
At the time, energy conservation was considered a national security issue by the White House. Once
leadership at MacDill had a clearer picture of the problem, they understood they had to make marked improvements. They started by directing staff of high consuming units (like USCENTCOM and USSOCOM) to turn down A/C units, turn off lights and computers when not in use, and co-locate staff that needed to work off hours. With these small changes, energy consumption immediately began
dropping 2-3% a year resulting in millions of dollars of savings. But that was just the beginning…
With the savings achieved from the incremental changes in behavior, MacDill leadership agreed to invest in the deployment of state-of-the-art energy efficient assets that would have long lasting impacts.
The first asset that the Akima team implemented were LED lights. On the surface, LED lights may seem like a simple change. However, the payback is tremendous: delivering 40% savings in energy use and a 10- to 15-year operational life. The shift from fluorescent lights to LED lights allowed MacDill to reduce the number of maintenance workers required on staff and brought improved aesthetics to the
base with cleaner lighting and modern fixtures. Next, the Akima team implemented magnetic bearing
chillers. Magnetic bearing chillers typically use 50% less energy than conventional chillers, have no corrosion issues (a key factor in saltwater environments like Tampa), and run quietly. Additionally, the Akima team installed charging stations for electric vehicles and energy efficient overhead door motors based on data presented by the smart meters. Since the Akima team was brought on board in 2010,
cumulative energy savings have amounted to over $17.5 million.