Air Force challenge: Cutting energy bills for 626 million square feet

It’s hard enough trying to make your house or apartment as energy-efficient as possible: replacing windows, adding insulation, programming the thermostat, adjusting the temperature setting on the hot-water heater, etc. Imagine trying to do that on a global scale across properties with a total area of 626 million square feet.

That’s the challenge facing the US Air Force, which is tasked not only with a defense mission but now also has to meet presidential executive orders to manage its assets more effectively, improve energy efficiency, and cut consumption, waste and carbon emissions.

The key to achieving those goals on such a massive scale is, as Sherlock Holmes would say, “data, data, data.”

To get better insights into how its properties use energy and other resources, the Air Force plans to use a program called TRIRIGA. Developed by a company of the same name that was acquired last year by IBM, TRIRIGA will provide the Air Force with a single system for overseeing its building management decisions.

The software is designed to crunch and analyze all the energy-use, heating, lighting, water, sewer and other data coming in from all the Air Force’s properties around the globe, and to identify ways where operations could be made more efficient.

Those ways could include pinpointing old equipment that should be replaced before problems occur, buildings where space is going unused and wasted, and facilities where energy use or waste production is higher than average.

The software could also, for example, help the Air Force decide whether it makes more dollars-and-cents sense to replace a roof on a building rather than replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

“Having the right data at the right time is essential for US Air Force personnel,” said George Ahn, vice president of Enterprise Asset Management for IBM. The TRIRIGA platform, he continued, “infuses a new level of intelligence to physical infrastructures that will enable US Air Force to make the timely and critical decisions about their assets that are essential to the success of their operations.”

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