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June 27, 2011

Prisons Join the Energy Party

Jail stock photo cropped

This big house has gone green in a big way. 

With inmates doing the heavy lifting in retrofitting their facilities, the Arkansas Department of Correction recently announced a savings of $750,000 a year, thanks to an aggressive bout of energy-saving improvements. Limited to four sites across the state, projects ranged from upgraded lighting to improvements in heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Estimates pegged an energy savings of more than 2.2 gigawatts a year, enough for hundreds of thousands of homes. It's expected to "reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere by 1,450 tons each year. That is the equivalent of removing 317 cars from state highways or adding 2,480 acres of forest land to Arkansas." Impressive.

The story reminded me of another government entity that is thinking green -- namely the military, which happens to be the "single largest industrial consumer of oil in the world." The military uses petroleum for virtually all of its activities. Considering the high costs (money and lives) of drilling, the Pentagon two weeks ago launched "Operation Energy Strategy," which will prioritize conservation and efficiency, and eventually incorporate renewables. With a more diverse crop of energy sources, the military will be able to carry on with less risk and a lower price tag.

-- Brian Foley

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