Joint ventures aim at environmental sustainability
November 5, 2010
FORT BLISS, Texas (Army News Service, Nov. 5, 2010) -- Through joint ventures with industry and utilities, Fort Bliss is on its way to being a net zero energy installation by 2015 - 15 years before the Army's 2030 target.
The current efforts underway at Fort Bliss to meet the Army's goals of net zero energy, net zero water and net zero waste by 2030, were showcased Nov. 4 for Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.
One of the sites Hammack said made an impact was the desalination plant. The plant is the result of a joint project of Fort Bliss and El Paso Water Utilities. According to El Paso Water Utilities officials, this desalination facility produces 27.5 million gallons of fresh water daily.
"It was amazing to hear today that in the water planning, they're planning out for the next 300 hundred years," said Hammack. "That's appropriate stewardship for our children -- for the next generation of our children's children -- and that's exactly what we need to be doing as a nation. Really, what makes this installation stand out is the stewardship of water."
Hammack said water is an increasingly scarce resource and the drought projections over the next 10 to 20 years are alarming. Several areas that were considered to be very moist and humid areas are going to be facing increasing drought situations, added Hammack.
"Focusing on it early and investing in it, is really the way forward and is a best practice," Hammack said.
Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, Fort Bliss commander, said the installation has a very strong team that is moving in the right direction toward meeting the goal of becoming net zero by the year 2015. Achieving net zero would mean producing more renewable energy than is consumed.
Fort Bliss is experiencing the largest expansion since World War II, said Pittard, and with that is the challenge of conserving resources while also building up the post.
Using renewable energy and being energy conscious and more efficient are all part of the Army's sustainability goal, said B.J. Tomlinson, the renewable energy and sustainable engineering program manager in the Directorate of Public Works at Fort Bliss. He said he will aggressively pursue Pittard's goal for the post.
"The facility, Fort Bliss, needs to be 100 percent renewable energy -- net zero -- by 2015, and that's December 31st, 2015," said Tomlinson.
Tomlinson said the biggest challenge is the money involved in getting the different projects put in place, and generating the power.
"We're not using space-age, cutting-edge technology that nobody knows if it will work or not," Tomlinson said. "These are commercial projects that are already being done. It's just a matter of finding out the right business case and working with the Army to find out how to integrate those into Fort Bliss."
Tomlinson said the larger renewable energy projects are going to have to be partnerships with industry. What Fort Bliss brings to the table with regard to getting these projects off the ground, he said, is the land.
Fort Bliss has been pursing sustainable concepts such as well-insulated buildings, getting rid of swamp air conditioning coolers and going more toward closed-cycle refrigerated air where one can control the temperature of the building and make it more efficient, said Tomlinson. The post is also exploring photovoltaic panels on buildings in order to offset the energy that the building requires to operate, he added.
Pittard said he is committed to ensuring Fort Bliss becomes the premier installation not just for training but also for taking care of families and Soldiers. "And that our civilians, families and Soldiers want to live, work and play here," said Pittard.
Hammack and senior Fort Bliss leaders also signed the Army Family Covenant and pledged their support for military families during a signing ceremony.
"Fort Bliss really is stepping up in their responsibility to the families and to the environment. It's really amazing what's going on here," said Hammack.