Fort Worth Adds Lockheed to Sustainable Efforts

Companies talk about ways to reduce and save at a conference

By Chris Van Horne
|  Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012  |  Updated 8:06 PM CDT
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Fort Worth is working with local companies to find ways to become more energy efficient and cut electric usage by 20 percent in the next few years.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter

Fort Worth is working with local companies to find ways to become more energy efficient and cut electric usage by 20 percent in the next few years.

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Amidst worries that Texas will run into serious power problems in the next five years, Fort Worth is working to make the city and those who live and work there more energy efficient.

The city said it has saved $5.9 million through energy-saving upgrades and programs over the last decade. City leaders hope to cut usage by at least 20 percent by 2020.

To get the point out about how businesses can make energy-savings moves, the city took part in a conference about sustainable energy at Lockheed Martin on Wednesday.

"We have saved millions, millions, of dollars by conserving energy, and that makes this company more attractive to win contracts," said Ben Paul Gilmore, Lockheed's facilities energy manager.

Lockheed has spent years reducing the number of resources, including energy and water, that it uses.

On Wednesday, it signed on to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, along with Baylor All Saints Medical, UTA Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the city.

The challenge, while not necessarily a competition, encourages municipalities, corporations and educational institutions to share and compare the best ways to conserve energy.

Fort Worth's mayor said it's a worthwhile endeavor -- and not just because it saves tax dollars, but can help bring more in.

"Resources are limited, and we all want to leave a better world for a our children and grandchildren a better environment to live in," Mayor Betsy Price said. "And all business come in and ask, 'What are you doing? What are you doing about sustainability?'"

Lockheed's sustainable efforts include a control room in a boiler room where a team of workers can manager every single facility at the plant and reduce air temperatures and lighting. Price said Lockheed's programs are at the "cutting edge," which is why the company was showing off the facility and talking about sustainable efforts by hosting the conference.

The effort to reduce energy comes just as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas says that this year that it forecasts electricity shortfalls as early as 2015. Gilmore warned about the importance of cutting back.

"You'll see brownouts, rolling brownouts like we saw years ago, where the utility company has to shut down sections of the grid because power is not available. They don't have any other choice," he said.

Lockheed is one of the state's major manufacturers called upon to help reduce energy usage during high-demand periods. The control room where Gilmore's programs operate is where he and his staff can make those reductions far quicker than sending someone around to flip switches to off.

"Most employees will never know it's going on," he said.

According to the DOE's Better Buildings Challenge website, Fort Worth is just one of three Texas cities -- along with Houston and El Paso -- involved in the challenge.

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