Energy and Environment

Ask the Captain - Q&A (continued)


Question (May 2015): Is there a policy for charging personal electric vehicles at work (on base) at Point Mugu or Port Hueneme?  I have seen a couple of vehicles around Point Mugu that are being charged via plugged into the building using the charger supplied with the vehicle.

Answer: Electric vehicle charging is a question that comes up frequently as those living and working at Naval Base Ventura County purchase alternative fuel vehicles more frequently.

In September 2010, the Government Accountability Office issued a decision regarding whether or not the government could spend money to install electric vehicle chargers for employees to use with their privately owned automobiles. Their ruling, published under file number B-320116, is clear that appropriated funds cannot be used for personal employee expenses, which fueling a personal vehicle clearly is. Whether that fuel is gas in a tank or electricity in a battery is irrelevant.

The follow-on question is usually “Why can’t the employee just pay for the electricity?” Currently, there is not a mechanism for such reimbursement nor is there a program authorizing such reimbursement. As such, it loops back to the “can’t use appropriated funds” to install or establish the service problem.

Congress may authorize agencies to use appropriations for expenses otherwise considered personal, as they did in the 1990s with the Federal Employees Clean Air Incentives Act, which encourages carpooling and public transportation by providing transit passes or cash reimbursements. Currently, no such authorization exists for electric vehicle charging.

If you see a personal vehicle plugged into a building’s power grid, please alert the facility manager so the issue can be addressed and the user educated.

Question (April 2015): I am a civilian employee at NBVC Point Mugu and I would like to make a suggestion to help NBVC reduce our water consumption in this time of extreme drought by not watering the lawns in the industrial areas of the base. I understand it is necessary in some instances such as Navy housing and in front of headquarters, but the building I work at is surrounded by grass that no one ever sees and no one would miss if it died. Would it be possible to just stop watering lawns like this to save our resources?

Answer: Thank you for providing a suggestion on how we can converse water during this time of severe drought in California.  NBVC has implemented several water conservation measures in the past few years. We have reduced our water consumption by 45.5 percent since 2007 by installing irrigation Smart Controllers, using efficient sprinkler heads, providing public outreach, and installing low flow fixtures such as toilets and shower heads. 

The Public Works Utilities Energy Management (UEM) Branch faces the challenge of continuing to reduce water usage while maintaining water quality.  If water is not moved or is allowed to become stagnant in the distribution system, water quality can degrade. This is more prevalent in the industrial areas during low usage times such as weekends and holidays.  Irrigating landscaping at a reduced rate in these low usage areas helps maintain water quality and allows the water to return to the water table. If we don’t use the water in the system, it must be periodically flushed out to keep it from stagnating. Flushed water just goes down the drain.

UEM continues to investigate ways to further reduce water use base wide and evaluate new technologies that will help balance the need for conservation with maintaining water quality.

Question (October 2014): Why is it always so hot at Needham Theater? I know they went through a renovation recently. Why didn’t they fix the air conditioning?

Answer: Needham Theater’s recent renovation did include an air conditioning refurbishment, and the system is operational. However, energy conservation standards set by Naval Facilities Command require that air conditioning be set no lower than 78 degrees in the summer.

This may seem warm, but it is in line with recommended conservation guidelines set forth by other power providers, such as Southern California Edison. The heat of summer brings huge strains on the power grid; we do our part by keeping the thermostat set, turning off lights when we leave the room – or installing automatic lights that turn themselves off – and shutting down our workstations at the end of the day.

Being good stewards of our nation’s resources requires diligence and constant re-evaluation. At Naval Base Ventura County, we have reduced our energy consumption by over 36 percent since 2003; our water consumption has been reduced by over 35 percent. Every little bit helps us do our part, and your understanding is appreciated.

Question (April 2014): I know money for basic maintenance is tight right now, but that’s no excuse for the mess I see around common areas. Cigarette butts, store receipts and dog waste aren’t a maintenance issue; this is a behavior issue. What happened to taking pride in your neighborhood?

Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this issue. I think we’ve all seen that great sign that says “Your mother doesn’t work here, so pick up after yourself” and had a good laugh, but it’s true: no one is going to pick up after us. We have to do it ourselves.

Cleaning up after yourself is a basic tenet of being a good neighbor, coworker and friend. If you smoke a cigarette, put it out in an ashtray. If your pet makes a mess, pick it up. If you finish your soda, find a recycling container. None of us would throw trash on the kitchen floor when the can is two steps away, but we see exactly that happen in outdoor spaces all the time.

As we recognize Earth Day, this is a great time to think about our shared responsibilities to our installation, our community, our country and our world. This Friday, commands around the installation will participate in an Earth Day clean-up event – a sort of FOD walk down for Naval Base Ventura County. Join us as we beautify our home and re-establish good, earth-friendly habits to continue for the rest of the year.

 

Question (April 2013):  I believe that turning off computers and lights around the base would be a great and impacting skill.  But as any skill, it takes repetition and reminders to create a habit. I suggest we bring back the stickers that go either on the light switches or directly above them that remind passersby to "turn their lights off" and add "and your computers off". Other ways to engage the users could be to create thin stickers to affix to computer monitors. I believe that spending a bit of money in creating these reminders could save us in the long run. Thanks for your time.

Answer: Thank you for your suggestion. It would seem that great minds think alike. Although stickers have not been discussed, our energy program manager is in the process of having large, high-quality posters printed for distribution to office and industrial facilities throughout Naval Base Ventura County. These posters contain reminders just like those you’ve suggested: Turn off lights when you leave a room and shut down your computers overnight. They also address other energy and water conservations efforts that can make all our facilities efficient, productive spaces for everyone.

 

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