Navy Targets Lighting Energy Consumption

The U.S. Navy is enlisting the help of the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center in order to help reduce energy consumption for outdoor lighting on naval bases. Not limited to lighting, the agreement between the two organizations will also allow the Navy to consult UC Davis about efficiency in heating and cooling, as well as alternative energy sources for a wide variety of aircraft, vessels, and vehicles. The Navy’s assistant secretary for energy, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, met with members of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center to better understand how developments could improve standards to meet new energy guidelines. Pfannenstiel once held a chair on the California Energy Commission, and is expected to help oversee aspects of the partnership.

There are already three bases in California testing lighting systems – a naval base in San Diego, a National Guard base in Sacramento, and the Beale Air Force Base in Marysville. And according to Michael Siminovitch, Director of the UC Davis Lighting Center, those systems could be used to reduce the energy consumption of outdoor lights by almost 70%, saving the US military, and potentially taxpayers, thousands of dollars in the coming years.

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More than likely, the main components of the program will be to install energy efficient lightbulbs that are set to sensors and timed computerized controls. In addition to contributing to light pollution and disrupting ecosystems of nocturnal species, lights that remain on when unused contribute to greenhouse gas emissions needlessly. The partnership between UC Davis and the Navy to curb this issue is part of an overall change in the U.S. Navy’s Energy Goals [pdf], which plainly state that American forces depend far too heavily on oil.

In a similar move last year, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus signed a memorandum to provide small business the opportunity to provide sustainable projects to the military. All of these actions are moving the Navy towards its rather ambitious green benchmarks: by 2020 at least half of the energy used must come from non-fossil fuels, and half of the bases must be carbon net-neutral. With less than ten years left to reach those two goals, expect to see more programs between private firms and public universities arise to help the military become more sustainable.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

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