Academy engineer lauded for energy conservation

Russell Hume delves into plans for the Cadet Character and Leadership Center, slated for construction beginning in 2011. Mr. Hume, a mechanical engineer with the Air Force Academy's 10th Civil Engineer Squadron, received a 2009 Air Force Energy Conservation Award for his efforts in moving the Academy toward fossil fuel independence by 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ann Patton)

Russell Hume delves into plans for the Cadet Character and Leadership Center, slated for construction beginning in 2011. Mr. Hume, a mechanical engineer with the Air Force Academy's 10th Civil Engineer Squadron, received a 2009 Air Force Energy Conservation Award for his efforts in moving the Academy toward fossil fuel independence by 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ann Patton)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A mechanical engineer with the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron here has taken the top spot in outstanding individual performance for the annual Air Force Energy Conservation Awards.

"It came totally out of the blue," said Russell Hume, who received notification that he had won the award via e-mail while on leave during the winter break.

"He was a clear choice," said Lt. Col. Jace Davey, 10th CES commander. "He works very well with both the engineers and the cadets."

A 12-year veteran of the 10th CES, Mr. Hume was dubbed "energy czar" last year by retired Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni.

The husband and father of two youngsters said he was "very pleased" about the award -- but also a little embarrassed.
"Many have done good work, some as long as 20 years in the trenches, and they never lack for ingenuity or initiative," he said.

He also credited the 10th CES and 10th Air Base Wing for supporting his work on the Academy in terms of both commitment and involvement.

"It's great when you have commitment, but it's better when individuals are involved," he said.

Mr. Hume stressed that energy is but one component of his work on the Academy, which also includes building projects to compete for funding at the Air Force level and competing within the Academy to develop and execute projects.

Among the projects he has been involved with are renovations of Vandenberg, Mitchell and Fairchild halls, revamping the 10th Medical Group's Urgent Care Clinic and overseeing projects involving housing privatization.

He also serves as technical adviser to Academy contractor CH2M Hill on compliance issues and is involved with the Academy's selection as the Air Force's Net-Zero installation by the Department of Defense. The project is intended to serve as a template for energy planning and management for other military installations in the future.

Cadets benefit from Mr. Hume's expertise in such projects as developing the curriculum for the Civil Engineering Department's sustainability project for six cadets. He said cadets appreciated the course for its bridge to understanding real-world experiences.

No day appears to be the same as another for Mr. Hume.

"I may spend six minutes on one project, then spend six minutes on another project," he said of the variety of his work, which he seems to relish.
"It's the diversity I like," he said.

On energy conservation, the University of Wyoming graduate spoke frankly.

"Energy-efficient things are more costly," he said. For example, energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs are more expensive than conventional bulbs but also save money and energy in the long run. The issue of return on investments for energy efficiency remains a very sensitive issue.

"The return on investments is not there sometimes," he said. "The ends need to justify the means."

Mr. Hume said the Academy's solar array, which is anticipated to begin operating this year, was a wise move.

"Solar (energy) makes sense," he said, especially considering funding support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, tax incentives and the capacity to market renewable energy certificates.

On energy conservation, Mr. Hume wants those who work on the Academy to be mindful of and cut down on even small drains on energy, such as leaving on computer monitors when not in use and heavy use of space heaters.

"We want them to have that mindset," he said.

Mr. Hume began his engineering career by surveying missile silos at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and an internship at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, before coming to the Academy. He has no particular pet projects.

"I try to treat every project the same way," he said. "We give the best we can to all of them."