Resource Efficiency Manager Program Still Going Strong With Energy Efficiency Gains

February 1, 2002

Developed as a response to the cutbacks in dedicated energy staff at military facilities, resource efficiency managers (REMs) are finding a niche at a growing number of Federal facilities. Federal agencies taking advantage of REM programs include the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Postal Service facilities in California and Florida, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

REM programs are designed to generate their own revenue plus additional savings from utility budgets. Working in partnership with existing part- or full-time Federal facility energy staff, REMs identify and implement energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable projects and track resource use such as natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, water/wastewater, and solid waste. Currently, 20 REMs work with 45 Federal sites with total energy expenditures of approximately $200�million per year. A REM program for a large Federal facility is capable of generating a typical return on investment of 300 to 400�percent.

The REM serves as a resource for:

  • identifying energy efficiency procurement opportunities,

  • identifying improved operations and maintenance practices,

  • providing training to building managers to identify savings opportunities,

  • working with utilities and state agencies to identify rebate or technical assistance programs, and

  • recommending more energy-efficient technologies to be included in new construction or remodeling of facilities.

The Army's Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, pioneered the REM with great success. Launched by Washington State University's (WSU's) Cooperative Energy Program with state grants from FEMP and funding through the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Fort Lewis is annually saving taxpayers more than the yearly program cost of approximately $120,000. The REM position is self-sustaining now with the Army directly funding the REM position every year. In fact, Fort Lewis' cumulative energy cost savings since 1996 (original start of the program) amounts to about $1.9�million. Plans are underway for the Army Forces Command to implement this program at two other sites.

Navy organizations taking advantage of REM programs include Navy Region Southwest, Navy Region Northwest, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Navy Public Works Center, San Diego. The Navy's six REMs creatively implemented energy savings projects by pursuing funding through Federal and State grants, utility incentives, and energy service companies to supplement energy project investments.

As Scott Wolf, manager of the Total Efficiency Network at WSU's Energy Program, explained, "The REM is a full-time, dedicated energy champion who creates other champions within the organization and outside the organization among various energy partners. Relationships with partners are critical to bringing in energy investments, and giving everyone ownership in the campaign to save energy."

The approach is paying off at the Navy Region Southwest. Here, Tetra Tech EM Inc., has identified or implemented projects and initiatives valued at $12�million since February 2000. The program has identified or generated about $4.8 million in annual cost savings. In addition, at the Naval Base San Diego, the REM program reduced electrical demand so much that it avoided more than $1�million in electricity demand charges.

In addition, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which began a REM program in February 2001 through funding from PNNL made available to WSU, realized $250,000 in savings in about 10 months and identified $1�million in projects for its headquarters in Virginia and other NOAA installations that will result in an additional annual savings of $250,000.

Looking back on the lessons learned from the REM initiative, thus far, Wolf said, "It is a great idea for REMs to be physically located on-site. The interactive nature of these programs is very important." He added, "It is preferable that REMs report as high up in the organization as possible. Often the decision-making chain takes too long when the REM reports several layers down in an organization." To date, REM initiatives are faring well and are helping civilian and military facilities reach higher levels of energy efficiency. A more detailed summary report of REM activities is planned for completion later in the year and will be available on FEMP's web site.

For more information, please contact Scott Wolf of Washington State University at 888-634-2558 or www.energy.wsu.edu/ten/; Bill Sandusky of PNNL at 509-375-3709 or bill.sandusky@pnl.gov; or Cheri Sayer of DOE Seattle Regional Office at 206-553-7838.