SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- A strong Army is prepared, and the key to being prepared is having a well-thought-out plan. This is true whether the mission involves combat, responding to natural disasters or deployments.

But often overlooked by the public is master planning -- developing a community through a long-range plan that balances and harmonizes all elements.

About three years ago, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii set out to do just this when Schofield Barracks became the home of a pilot project developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, Southwestern Division.

Known as the Installation Sustainability Master Plan, the project sought ways to integrate sustainability into long-term master planning to help the garrison meet Department of Defense "Net Zero" goals for reducing energy and water consumption.

The project's efforts, so far, have paid off.

Two national organizations recently recognized USAG-HI's Installation Sustainability Master Plan.

In April, the American Planning Association (APA) bestowed USAG-Hawaii with an award for Outstanding Sustainable Planning, Development or Design Initiative. Also in April, the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) honored USAG-HI its award for Excellence in Planning.

According to the NAEP, the Installation Sustainability Master Plan stands out because, instead of focusing on individual buildings, it takes a holistic, bird's eye view of all of Schofield Barracks.

A key component of the plan's approach was inclusion of the new Net Zero Planner, a Web-based modeling tool developed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Illinois.

Because the project works, it is intended to be used at other Army and Department of Defense installations, said Mark Mitsunaga, master planner with the Planning Division of USAG-HI's Directorate of Public Works.

"Winning awards is nice, but the real challenge is to get the Army to understand the importance of master planning," said Mitsunaga. "Having a master plan is integral to getting things running in an efficient manner."

He added, "Using these methods at the early planning stages is the most advantageous time, since it will be able to incorporate techniques at the front end rather than trying to retrofit later."