The Department of Defense’s oldest and largest retailer, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, is embarking on a variety of energy-saving initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment and strengthen the exchange benefit military families have come to depend on.
From vending machines to gas station canopies, AAFES is implementing “green” initiatives at exchange facilities on Army and Air Force installations across the globe.
“AAFES is a global retailer with more than 3,100 facilities in some 30 countries,” said AAFES’ Energy Program Manager Ann Scott. “Considering the size and scope of our mission, it makes sense to evaluate every possible ‘green’ option available. Fortunately, new opportunities to save energy and increase earnings are growing every day.”
More options are turning into reduced energy consumption in AAFES’ vending operations as 40 additional ENERGY STAR® beverage vending machine models became available in 2007. With older vending machines consuming some 192 kwh per month compared to 172.5 kwh for ENERGY STAR® versions, AAFES is focused on ensuring at least 10 percent or more of their 21,000 beverage machines are ENERGY STAR® compliant before the end of 2008. Successful expansion of ENERGY STAR® beverage vending machines from 1,664 currently in place at AAFES to 2,264 is projected to generate annual savings of more than $42,000 once the 10 percent target is met.
“Drinks stay cold, less energy is used and AAFES is able to return the savings to the annual dividend this command annually provides to the military community,” said AAFES’ Commander Brig. Gen. Keith Thurgood. “It’s smart business decisions like this that will make it possible for AAFES to deliver even more in the coming decade than the $2.4 billion it provided the Armed Forces in the past 10 years.”
From cool beverages to hot food, AAFES is also partnering with a number of name-brand franchises to reduce energy consumption in its fast food offerings. Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway are just a few of AAFES’ name-brand partners that are leading the way in inventive “pollution solutions” such as adjustable HVAC systems that run based on need versus a constant rate, eco-friendly building designs, LED menu boards and concept signing, as well as energy efficient refrigeration and heating methods.
Historically, fast food facilities, main exchanges and shoppettes have accounted for the majority of energy consumption at AAFES. Shoppettes, essentially the military version of convenience stores, often have gas pumps that require constant lighting for drivers to be able to fill up 24/7. The canopies that cover these pumps can easily consume 6,000 watts of electricity with standard lighting. Testing of a new generation of energy efficient fixtures has yielded savings of up 44 percent.
Recognized as an ENERGY STAR® retailer, AAFES began an aggressive training program in August 2007 to help its main store associates better assist energy-conscious shoppers. An on-going ENERGY STAR® awareness campaign is now branching out beyond appliances and electronics as the AAFES stock assortment now features a 20 percent mix of Compact Fluorescent Lighting options that use less energy and have a longer-rated life than conventional light bulbs.
CFL purchases at AAFES activities have grown steadily in the past two years, increasing from 8.2 percent of retail lighting sales in 2006 to 10 percent in 2007. Launched in February 2008, AAFES’ CFL light bulb awareness campaign is focused on the prominent display of CFL products and options.
“The CFL initiative is consistent with the military’s goal to cut energy costs and protect the environment,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Sales Maggie Burgess. “Compact florescent bulbs will go a long way in meeting these objectives as they use 75 percent less energy than standard lighting and last up to 10 times longer.”
In addition to the merchandise inside the store, AAFES designers and architects from its Real Estate division and industry partners are pursing initiatives in energy and environmental design with the US Green Building Council LEED NC Retail pilot program that focuses on energy and water reduction efforts to decrease operating costs and earth friendly materials to positively impact the environment and community.
“We’re incorporating sustainability initiatives for long term improvements to the environment, energy consumption reduction and to protect earnings for the Army and Air Force MWR programs from energy cost increases,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Real Estate Dan Metsala. “The Shopping Center new construction projects being developed for Ft. Polk, Randolph AFB, Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Bliss will set a new standard for us in energy efficiency as we go forward”.
All four projects are seeking LEED Silver certification. Construction of the first two AAFES LEED retail pilot facilities are scheduled to begin at Ft. Polk and Randolph AFB later this year with grand openings anticipated around December 2009.
“Cleaning up the environment begins at home. For AAFES facilities residing on Army and Air Force installations across the globe, ‘home’ is the military community,” said Thurgood. “As such, I’m excited about the steps AAFES is taking to make the ‘homes’ we share with military Families better places to live, work and, of course, shop thanks to reduced energy consumption, increased dividends and a better quality of life.”
To find out more about AAFES' history and mission or to view recent press releases visit http://www.aafes.com/pa/default.asp.