The concept of energy conservation is now deeply entrenched in building design and operation. Typical approaches take a first law perspective that seeks to reduce energy quantity losses at individual system components. While this conventional approach often results in energy savings, it is not sufficient to realize ultra-low energy communities. However, the concept of energy quality, which derives from the second law of thermodynamics, is capable of more holistic, systems analyses, revealing opportunities for efficiency improvement, energy quality matching, or energy cascading that may otherwise go unnoticed. This paper makes two cross-comparisons of analytic perspectives for understanding energy consumption in different types of Army communities. The first is a comparison of first and second law perspectives of energy improvement technologies at a permanent Army base in the United States. The second is a comparison of electricity generation efficiencies at forward operating bases under conditions that do not consider supply chain fuel consumption and those that do. Considerable differences exist in the conclusions and recommendations that are generated by the different perspectives in each case. In the permanent community, second law analysis is useful for demonstrating the value of combined heat and power at an existing heating district. In the second case, the consumption of fuel in long convoys suggests that delivery of energy equipment (such as solar panels) is in itself an important source of fuel consumption that should be considered in optimization of solar energy technologies.

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