Air Force Cuts Back on Massive Energy Consumption

The federal government's largest consumer of energy has decided it is time to cut back.

As the federal government's largest single energy consumer, the U.S. Air Force has decided it needs to make some changes to cut down on energy consumption. With its new Energy Strategic Plan, the Air Force looks to cut consumption and increase sustainability.

"Every military capability, mission, and member of the Air Force depends on a reliable supply of energy," the Air Force said in its strategic plan. "To ensure the Air Force can continue to achieve and sustain its mission, we must be agile and actively seek solutions to the energy challenges that pose a threat to our operations."

In 2012, the Air Force spent about $9 billion -- 8 percent of its total budget and $1.5 billion less than 2011's totals -- on energy alone, mostly in the form of jet fuel. To date, the Air Force has cut jet fuel consumption -- 85 percent of the branch's energy usage -- by 12 percent, which exceeds the pledge to cut 10 percent by 2015. Plans are in motion to utilize biofuels for 50 percent of domestic aviation by 2016.

In addition to cutting back on fuel consumption, the Air Force will also focus on lowering water usage.

"Our approach to energy also includes reducing our consumption of water, as the two are inextricably tied," the Energy Strategic Plan states. "Virtually every source of electricity -- whether from coal, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels, or even concentrated solar -- requires water in some manner, including for production, mining, and generation. By reducing the Air Force's demand for energy, it is also reducing the demand for water."

Currently, the U.S. government uses 1 percent of the nation's energy, which is mostly used by the Department of Defense. Nearly half of all of the energy used by DOD is used by the Air Force.

Beyond fuel and water consumption, the Air Force has reduced the energy used by its buildings by more than 21 percent since 2003 and should reach its goal of a 37.5 percent cut by 2020.

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