US Army Winning on Sustainability Mission

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability Richard Kidd outlined  at the March 21 Wharton Club Green Business Forum the fundamental shift in thinking — as described in its mission statement and related orders to reduce resource waste — that has taken place since 2003.  Net Zero consumption of energy, water use and waste generation is the objective, composed of five interrelated steps: reduction, re-purpose, recycling and composting, energy recovery and disposal.  The Army operates under about 150 different mandates from Congress or the Administration pertaining to how its uses resources, each of which requires periodic reports.  But the current leadership decided that rather than just respond to these mandates, it would instead inculcate sustainability into the overall mission of the army — together with its other strategic goals.  This has resulted in dissemination of a focus on conservation and resource reduction throughout the Army, from cadets at West Point to soldiers in the field carrying rechargeable batteries.

The Army has set for itself ambitious goals:

Reduction in Energy Intensity by 3% per year to a total of 30% by 2015 — currently behind schedule.

Increase Use of Renewable Energy for electricity by 3% per year (for FY 07-09), 5% (FY 10-12) and 7.5% (FY 13) — ahead of schedule, have achieved 7.1% already.

Reduction in Potable Water Intensity by 2% per year for 26% total reduction by FY 2020 (2007 baseline) — ahead of schedule, achieved 26.6% vs. 12% goal.

Reduction in Fleet Petroleum Use by 2% per year through FY 2020 (Baseline 2005) — 7 years ahead of schedule, achieved 32.8% vs. 16% goal for petroleum, 1162% increase in alternative fuels vs. 195% goal.

Kidd explained that over the 13.5 million acres of land, 1 billion square feet of buildings and 152 small cities it manages with approximately $18.9 billion annually, it has put the payment stream to use working with industry to develop more efficient means of disposing of waste (such as extracting energy from old ammunition) and new sources of renewable power.  An Energy Initiatives Task Force within the Army is in charge of actively developing and managing a cost-effective portfolio of large-scale (greater than 10 MW) renewable energy projects on or near Army installations, often with private sector financing, under power purchase agreements.  The Army’s presence in the power market is often significant:  once a new renewable power system is online in Alabama, for example, it will increase the total amount of solar power in the state by 10 times.  The Army is currently in the process of acquiring about 175 MW of power from a variety of renewable sources.

And the Army has developed innovative power systems for forward-deployed units that use solar as the primary base load power source, with generators as back up fuel.  Although the initial investment in these systems is more expensive than the traditional setup (with generators as the base load source), when total operations and maintenance costs are figured in, Kidd said, these new configurations “pay for themselves in weeks.”

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