“All in a day’s work,” is a typical sentiment for the members of the Civil Engineering Unit Miami, but for Charlotte Armstrong, it is an understatement. Climbing tall towers, training others, and managing the largest energy savings performance contracts in the U.S. Coast Guard are some of the things that make up a “day’s work” for Armstrong, a Coast Guard civilian employee and civil engineer. In light of her hard work, Armstrong was selected as the 2012 U.S. Coast Guard's Engineer of the Year and was a top 10 finalist for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award.
Throughout CEU Miami’s expansive area of responsibility — a 26-state span stretching from North Dakota to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands with more than 100 individual units — Armstrong has made significant impacts related to sustainability and energy efficiency. Most notably, she serves as the principal lead for all major energy and sustainability projects executed by CEU Miami. One such landmark project was the development and execution of the Puerto Rico Energy Savings Performance Contract and Renewable Energy Services Agreement. This is the largest ESPC and solar project ever undertaken by the Coast Guard and the first of its kind in the federal government. The project involves combining the RESA financing structure within the ESPC vehicle, thus maximizing the incentives and overall value to the Coast Guard. Armstrong expertly led a team from various Coast Guard units, other federal agencies, and industry to ensure this project’s success. This $50 million contract installed 2.9 megawatts of photovoltaic power, and includes capital improvements such as cool roof replacement; heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning improvements; and weatherization that will reduce energy consumption by 3.9 billion British thermal units, or Btu, a 40 percent reduction in commercially procured energy. Her team’s efforts earned the 2011 Department of Homeland Security Sustainable Practices Award (Green Innovation Category) and fiscal year 2010 DHS Acquisition Excellence Award (Team Innovation and Best Practices Category).
She was also responsible for the development and execution of the first Utility Energy Savings Contract awarded in the CEU Miami area of responsibility. This $6 million project will enhance energy security and improve operations at nine Coast Guard facilities throughout Florida, while annually saving over 3.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy consumption and 2.7 million gallons of water. Armstrong remains at the vanguard of additional energy savings contracts targeting the Gulf Coast region and the remainder of the major sites in Florida.
Armstrong worked diligently with other members of the CEU Miami staff to establish procedures for assigning Federal Energy Efficiency Funds to energy conservation projects. These projects, while not as financially robust as an ESPC, are nevertheless important in meeting energy mandates at some of the Coast Guard’s smaller facilities. Beyond providing improved funding for smaller scale energy projects, she also provided technical assistance to these units who often lacked in-house engineering expertise. Additionally, Armstrong improved the internal energy audit process, enhancing visibility and funding of conservation opportunities.
In addition to the extensive leadership skills displayed in managing complex energy projects, Armstrong served as the project leader on several major maintenance and rehabilitation projects. These projects, totaling several million dollars, ranged from major repaving at air stations to the repair and recapitalization of critical vessel traffic service towers that had been badly damaged from Gulf Coast hurricanes.
Beyond her normal duties as a project manager, Armstrong is a Coast Guard tower climbing trainer, certified for both energized and non-energized towers up to 700 feet, and has trained more than 100 Coast Guard personnel. In addition, Armstrong participates in the Partnership in Education program and is an active member of the Society of American Military Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, past member of Women’s Council of Energy and the Environment, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, and Society of Women Engineers.
Armstrong is representative of the many hardworking members who tend to the Coast Guard’s vast shore infrastructure needs on a daily basis. “All in a day’s work,” indeed.