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How GIS helps the Navy reduce its energy consumption

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Like many organizations, the Navy decided to reduce its energy consumption in an effort to cut costs and become more environmentally-friendly, but unlike many organizations, that feat for the Navy involved looking at its facilities all the way from a global perspective down to a local one. In order to achieve this, the Navy used GIS software to develop the Navy Shore Geospatial Energy Program, which Sandrine Schultz presented during day two of the Esri Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C., last week.

The program was designed to allow the Navy to look at its energy consumption on a global basis and at individual facilities to help them identify where they needed to cut down on energy consumption.

“Geospatial capabilities are changing the way that we all do business,” Schultz said during the presentation. “We turned data into decisions.”

Using NSGEM, the Navy can look at maps that span from the entire globe to a single facility and show the organization’s energy consumption in that area. The program generates charts and graphs that help the organization monitor energy consumption on global and local levels over time, and different benchmark scores allow for quick evaluation of a facility’s energy consumption, as shown during a live demo of NSGEM. The program, Schultz said, allows the user to understand, visualize, interpret, correct, share and answer energy questions.

NSGEM, which Schultz said took nine months to develop, is part of the Navy’s overall goals concerning energy consumption, which include increasing energy efficiency and reducing consumption, working toward water conservation, implementing the use of alternative energy sources and establishing a culture of conservation within the organization. Specifically,the program has helped the Navy increase data credibility and identify potential savings on energy consumption, Schultz said.

She also pointed out that while she and her team developed the program specifically for the Navy, they developed it with other organizations in mind. The processes NSGEM uses to monitor the Navy’s energy consumption are standard ones that can be applied to any facility, and the reports users can create within the program generate a range of information on facilities’ energy consumption. She said that further developments in store for the program include improving the ease of creating energy-consumption reports and adding a commodity-breakdown function, and that she and her team hope other organizations make use of the program.

“What’s very important is for people to become accountable for their data,” Schultz said. “Their data is really telling their story.”

Schultz’s presentation at the Facility Energy and Sustainability Performance session was accompanied by papers on a program developed by the National Institutes of Health to identify the presence of asbestos on its campuses and a program from the Maryland State Archives that helps the organization monitor the facility’s environment to keep it at an optimum level for preserving paper.