UMCS, Metering programs help military, federal agencies control utility use

Huntsville Center Public Affairs Office
Published July 25, 2013
As government agencies are striving to reduce energy costs and consumption and increase use of renewable energy, many turn to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville.

Huntsville Center, on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, manages programs that implement energy improvements and make living and working conditions better for Soldiers, civilians and families on military installations and other federal agencies.

One way to reduce energy costs and consumption is to identify energy conservation measures such as upgrades to utility monitoring and control systems. Another way is to be more aware of how much energy an agency is using by installing utility meters.

Huntsville Center’s Utility Monitoring and Control System Mandatory Center of Expertise – UMCS-MCX – provides Department of Defense and other federal agencies a consistent approach to designing, procuring and installing complex monitoring and control systems. The Army Central Metering Program is installing meters that will measure energy consumption and ultimately be connected through the Meter Data Management System for centralized monitoring.

As of May 2013, the UMCS program was tracking 274 projects with an estimated $636 million value. Metering had 93 projects valued at $175 million.

“We do not sell our program based on energy savings,” said Gina Elliott, UMCS Project Management Branch chief. “However, now that the focus in the past 5-7 years has shifted to increasing utility costs, people are running toward UMCS. A typical UMCS project on a typical military base could save you 17-20 percent. It is quite a bit of savings.”

A UMCS focuses on the control of the utilities’ mechanical equipment and to reduce energy usage in the smartest and most efficient way for the government. These control systems often apply to utility equipment such as boilers; chillers; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; supervisory control and data acquisition; lighting; and alternative energy sources.

“People may think we just change out light bulbs or mechanical equipment, and although we are doing that, the bigger part is utility control,” Elliott said. “The local energy managers use their UMCS system to apply control sequences that will reduce energy use. UMCS also assists the facility manager with the ability to monitor and control equipment functions, use, and efficiency. The brain of the UMCS system resides in a front-end server; this is where the data is captured and manipulated. Sophisticated software allows this data to be easily viewed on a monitor or operator workstation. From here the energy or facility manager can make decisions and control the equipment as needed.”

Installed utility meters can help control energy consumption by identifying how much electricity and other utilities are being used by location.

“We are installing electric meters on Army installations, and expect to be finished by the end of fiscal year 13,” said Alicia Allen, Metering program manager. “Once the electric meters are installed, we will start installing meters to measure water, gas and steam as well. At the conclusion of the program, more than 20,000 meters for various utilities will have been installed on key Army facilities.”

UMCS and Metering are two programs managed by the Huntsville Center that help military organizations and other federal agencies monitor and control energy use. Other programs help reduce energy or install renewable energy. Huntsville Center energy programs also remove facilities that are no longer needed and are consuming energy, renovate facilities using state-of-the-art energy improvement methods, and show installation energy managers ways to manage energy resources more effectively.