Army's chief energy exec visits West Point
February 1, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 1, 2012) -- Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability, met with senior leaders and cadets Jan. 26-27 to discuss West Point's energy endeavors.
Kidd was briefed on topics related to West Point's progress as a Net Zero Energy installation and curriculum changes that would incorporate energy topics into coursework. He also gauged the Corps of Cadets' contributions both in and out of the classrooms, as they seek improvements to the barracks' recycling program and their work developing projects related to energy and environmental issues. Kidd also presented three lectures to cadets on the Army Energy Policy along with Col. Paul Roege, chief of the Operational Energy Office (G-4).
The Core Interdisciplinary Team introduced an institutional program to inject energy-related topics into 16 core courses--stretching across several disciplines--starting next semester.
Cadets who will join the Class of 2016 will receive initial exposure to energy security topics and challenges within courses like chemistry, math and information technology. Exposure will lead to application the following year in math, physics, environmental engineering, economics and political science courses.
"Our plan began with creating an interdisciplinary 'spine' of topics for the plebe class and then another 'spine' for yearling year," Col. Gerald Kobylski, Department of Mathematics professor, said. "The plebe spine is being formed by chemistry and math, while the spine in yearling year will be formed by physics and math."
For example, cadets will be able to take simple equations on diesel fuel combustion from a chemistry class to their math class where they can apply modeling process and matrix algebra to balance a more realistic combustion reaction. Whether it's a study on the reverse osmosis water purification unit or understanding energy needs on a forward operating base, the CIT personnel will connect disciplines wherever applicable to promote knowledge transfer.
"There will be a connection where cadets see something in chemistry and then we show them a harder application in math, or vice-versa," Kobylski said.
The intent is for other courses, like English and Psychology, to build upon whatever topic is identified on the spine.
"Whether that's insulating a tent or trying to figure how much energy is needed to run generators to purify water--there's ethical decisions involved and you have to motivate troops to change the culture," Kobylski said.
As the Army's chief energy executive, Kidd is responsible for affecting that culture change in how the Army values its energy security and sustainability. He met with about 60 staff and faculty members to discuss energy security.
"The Army of today has to make decisions so the Army of tomorrow has choices, and that's where we are right now," Kidd said.
Along with operational and financial risks, Kidd said the Army's reputation is a third factor to consider.
"The Army is the largest consumer of electricity in the federal government," he said. "We consume 22 percent of the federal government's electricity in our buildings."
From coast to coast, the Army essentially operates in 165 cities with its personnel working and living on more land area than the state of Maryland. He said it is a reputational issue for leadership to change the culture Army-wide and become the environmental stewards in their communities, both stateside and overseas.
A behavior change working group, led by Lt. Col. Mark Smith, Dept. of Geography and Environmental Engineering instructor; Col. Diane Ryan, Dept. of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership assistant professor; and NORESCO representatives met with Kidd and Roege on several collaborative initiatives at West Point. Smith briefed on the West Point Energy Council, which combines the expertise and leadership from garrison and academy personnel toward energy and environmental security goals.
"The garrison is concerned about reducing energy costs and the academy is concerned about cadet education and leader development and together we are concerned about energy and environmental security," Smith, council co-founder, said.
Maj. Katie Matthew, a marketing instructor at BS&L, described an annual consultation project with real-world applications that will focus this year on an energy reduction campaign. By late April, 20 groups of cadets will tackle a marketing strategy--to include survey, campaign design and goals, developing promotional material--with Garrison and the Corps of Cadets as the target audiences. The completed campaigns will be available for implementation later this year.
"From an academic standpoint, this is one of the best ways I could get cadets hands-on application of the course material," Matthew said. "But it also has multiple opportunities to benefit the academy and the installation as well."
Matthew said the groups are highly-competitive to create the best campaign knowing that only one group will get the opportunity to brief at Projects Day May 3. The annual semester-end public display of cadet research throughout West Point has developed a significant number of energy and environmental topics throughout the academic departments in recent years. This will be the only one representing BS&L.
"The chance to brief people outside the classroom makes them excited and motivated because it shows how they can make a real impact," Matthew said. "And obviously the grade is going to be higher for someone who beats their peers that day."
Kidd also saw a few energy-related cadet projects like the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Generator Waste Heat recycle project and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science's intelligent power management project.
Dr. John Farr, Center for Nation Reconstruction and Capacity Development director, shortened his brief to a couple minutes to allow three cadets to present a Systems Engineering briefing.
Class of 2012 Cadets Michael Rodriguez, George Alsfelder and Timothy Hartong are working on a method for prioritizing the various Army energy projects to determine the true return on investments for the Army's Installation Management Command.
After presenting energy security as a systems problem, the cadets received constructive criticism from Kidd.
"I've lived this stuff every day, all day long, and you guys have done a very good job capturing very complex ideas early on in the project," Kidd told the cadets. "So I'm upping the game. I'm going to be a little more critical with you now because you've earned it."
Hartong said the project is a requirement for his team--all majoring in Systems Department programs--and the technical report they produce will be a product for the Center for Nation Reconstruction and Capacity Development. He said the comments from Kidd will help them improve their methodology.
"The model we develop should be useful to all Army installations when it comes to the evaluation of their energy security," Hartong said.
Col. Joseph DeAntona, the brigade tactical officer, joined the Corps of Cadets' energy and environmental officer, Class of 2012 Cadet Brian Meese, to provide Kidd with details into how cadets are developing roles as environmental leaders. In 2011, each company was assigned an energy cadet officer, and Meese is serving as the first brigade officer to oversee this team. Meese outlined his strategy to incorporate both an awareness and action campaign to get more cadets involved. DeAntona said the additional duties and leadership positions in the brigade are a reflection of the current Army climate.
"When I arrived here a year ago, the message I wanted to bring was that we've got to get our cadets to understand this is going to be their duty and responsibility as a lieutenant," DeAntona said. "Having just come from a tactical brigade, I had energy and environmental officers in every battery, whether we were CONUS or downrange in order to ensure we were minimizing our footprint, creating a healthy and safe environment and that we were, wherever possible, being cost-effective in doing business. This has already permeated the tactical force, and so my thoughts coming to West Point were that we had to somehow expose them to these additional responsibilities a junior officer has."
The challenge is making the efforts matter. The coercive nature of military life leads to doing what is told, and not necessarily because it's the right thing to do. That is why Meese emphasizes education as a key component to changing culture in the Corps of Cadets.
"One of my challenges to Brian, along with all these good ideas, was to focus on ease of implementation and ease of use," DeAntona said. "In my mind, that's the key because then over time you've internalized it."
In April 2011, West Point was selected among six pilot Net Zero Energy installations, and Garrison Commander Col. Michael Tarsa and Directorate of Public Works officials provided a briefing on their progress. The goal, by 2020, is to develop a system where the installation produces as much energy as it consumes annually. The garrison has partnered with NORESCO, a private energy service company which has awarded the installation with $26 million in an energy savings performance contract, to explore options to add, upgrade and develop energy-efficient infrastructure projects.