Sustainability and Solar Energy
Workers install solar electricity panels at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District's Stanislaus River Park headquarters office with funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 4, 2010) -- Saving the environment and saving money at the same time are not incompatible goals, as highlighted in the Army Sustainability Report published last month.

"The Army is building green, buying green and going green to reduce our total life-cycle costs, logistics tail and energy bills," wrote Tad Davis in a letter to close the report. As the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for the Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, much of his focus has been on sustainability.

Davis helped launch the Army's first sustainability annual report in 2007.

"We got the idea from the private sector," he said, adding that most Fortune 500 companies publish either a sustainability report or corporate responsibility report annually.

"There's a business case to be made for all that we're trying to do throughout the sustainability effort," Davis said.

If water consumption and energy consumption can be reduced, Davis said costs will be cut. If debris from the demolition of old barracks can be recycled or re-used, then construction costs might be cut, he explained.

"The Army is working hard to apply the benefits and cost savings imparted by sustainability across the entire enterprise," Davis said.

The Army's sustainability report "looks at how we're doing across the board from a natural resources standpoint," Davis said. "But it also addresses how well we're doing in terms of safety and our recruiting programs as well -- in terms of sustaining the force."

One of the big efforts this past year has been to "operationalize" sustainability, meaning to synchronize efforts across multiple lines of operation -- to incorporate sustainability in Army planning, training, equipping and operations -- to make it a way of life, as Davis states in his letter.

"Sustainable ranges and training areas ensure combat readiness through increased training days, while sustainable buildings, facilities and neighborhoods enhance the quality of life for Soldiers and their families," said Davis.

A letter at the beginning of the report, signed by Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli and Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal states "sustainability has proven an effective tool for meeting operational requirements" and is helping balance the force. It says sustainability can counter the destabilizing effects of competition over diminishing resources, pandemics and climate change.

"Climate change and natural disasters strain already limited resources, increasing the potential for humanitarian crises and population migrations," the report states in another section. It explains that the competition over scarce resources, especially in developing countries, increases the likelihood for conflict.

The section titled "The Army's Triple Bottom Line-Plus" discusses mission, environment and the community, but ends with the "plus" of economic benefit. "The Army recognizes that sustainable practices reduce the true cost of doing business," it states.

For instance, the Army has reduced water usage by 31 percent since fiscal year 2004, according to the report. It states this is partly due to water-conserving toilets and urinals, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and some installations aggressively checking for leaks.

The Army is also looking at ways to re-use water, such as for bath and laundry purposes, Davis said.

The recent report is the Army's second one on sustainability. Released in May, it is titled "Army Sustainability Report 2009," and looks at trends based on information from 2008 and back to the 2007 report. In between the two reports, the number of Army installations with sustainability plans increased by 30 percent. And now every post has an environmental management plan in place, according to the report.

In 2008, the Army mandated that all vertical construction with climate control be designed to achieve a Silver rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED Green Building Rating System. This requires, among other things, sustainable energy, water, indoor environmental quality and waste management.

Sustainability is not just something accomplished at major installations, either, Davis said. It's done at forward operating bases and combat outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan. One example is the spray-foam insulation added to tents that help reduce the need for fuel to heat or cool. Tying generators together in micro-grids or smart grids is another example.

The Army is looking at many ways to make operations more efficient in "nontraditional installations" or contingency operations, Davis said. The Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another example highlighted in the report.

Another Army goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent Army-wide by 2025. In order to help achieve the goal, about 8,000 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles are going to be leased to replace fossil-fueled non-tactical vehicles throughout the Army

Demonstration projects are looking at renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy, Davis said. The Army has a 12-acre photovoltaic array at Fort Carson, Colo., and is coordinating for the construction of an even larger solar-power plan at Fort Irwin, Calif.

"There's a whole spectrum of things being done," Davis said. He added that the report at <a href=""target=_blank></a> is a good document, not only to look at what's being done today, but also to see what's slated for the future.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16