Base Improvements Help in Climb Towards Carbon Reduction

May 24, 2021
$23 million project at Kunsan Air Base helps the U.S. Air Force reduce annual emissions by 3,447 tons.

Energy resiliency has become a focal point as the idea of being climate friendly intensifies. Of course, achieving carbon neutrality takes times and offer occurs in steps.

Honeywell is helping the defense department do its part with its recent work at Kunsan Air Base, a U.S. Air Force base in Gunsan, South Korea. The $23 million project will improve fuel supply reliability through the installation of natural gas service on the base. The installation will increase security by reducing the need for frequent fuel oil deliveries and will help improve the quality of life for airmen by providing more easily maintained heating systems.

The work is projected to reduce the base's energy consumption by 11% and 58,714 MMBtus annually. The energy and operational savings achieved by the new measures are guaranteed by Honeywell and will self-fund the project, eliminating the need for up front capital investment. When complete, the upgrades will also benefit the base's host nation, South Korea, by reducing annual emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide by 3,447 tons, the equivalent to removing 728 cars from the road. The project will also lessen the risk of groundwater and soil contamination from fuel oil.

"Kunsan Air Base is home to more than 2,900 U.S. airmen, soldiers, civilians and South Korean nationals," said Major Mike Kelly in a statement. "We are pleased to increase their level of comfort through infrastructure updates, while simultaneously supporting greater sustainability goals. We have records dating back 17 years showing efforts to bring natural gas onto the installation. With this project, we can finally execute this goal to create a more secure fuel source on base, reducing the need to open gates and provide escorts for fuel oil deliveries."

Other elements of the project will modernize and enhance building monitoring and control systems and increase cybersecurity. Building management will be centralized creating a single point of control that will enable real-time decision making and help operators quickly identify potential operational issues. This will also allow building operators to schedule equipment use throughout the day, which can increase efficiency and optimize demand.

Overcoming obstacles

Honeywell’s work with Kunsan Air Base presented several challenges – both typical and atypical. “When Honeywell first engaged with Kunsan in 2017, the base was working to establish an agreement for natural gas service and had been for more than 14 years at the time. Given the yearly class rotations, it was difficult for the base to create a consistent dialogue with the local utilities and develop a plan for getting natural gas service on to the base,” John Bethea, energy project developer at Honeywell told IndustryWeek. “The Honeywell team has been able to establish both institutional knowledge of the base’s needs and continuity with local utilities and contractors. This helped to finally enable the deployment of natural gas to the base, after a 17-year effort. This is helping Kunsan to reduce the need for frequent fuel oil deliveries and helping to improve the quality of life for airmen by providing more easily maintained heating systems.”

According to Bethea, no one was anticipating the atypical challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. “This of course severely limited travel, resulting in a majority of the project team working remotely – on the other side of the world – and our on-site team going from a planned six-month rotation schedule to staying on the base for a full year,” he said. “While unexpected, we worked through the challenges to successfully deliver the project.”

Cleaner future

Honeywell established a cost-effective way to make improvements to Kunsan Air Base while leveraging the savings and helping to reduce emissions for the base’s host country, explains Bethea.

“One of the key takeaways from this project is that you can achieve valuable results when you have continuity within your team, and when everyone is working toward a specific goal,” he said. “Establishing project continuity allowed Kunsan and Honeywell to source technology, modernize and enhance building monitoring and control systems, and increase cybersecurity.”

By bringing insights and knowledge from their work in the field, Honeywell also helped enhance the mission readiness of Kunsan Air Base. “We helped the team move to locally-manufactured parts to help standardize equipment and decrease the time needed for repairs,” said Bethea. “We also established remote monitoring and diagnostics on the base, so the team no longer had to run from building to building to determine if a system was functioning properly.”