When the Assistant Secretary of the Army visited Fort Leonard Wood last week, the focus was the installation and the post's efforts in recycling and energy conservation.

Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installation, Energy and Environment) toured facilities, visited the Contingency Basing Integration Technology Evaluation Center and received updates from the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood during her one-day mission to Fort Leonard Wood March 9.

Hammack's return to the CBITEC was a dual-purpose visit in which she was given an update on the progress of the center, and also briefed on the current technology being assessed by the Sustainability Logistic Basing -- Science and Technology Objective at the facilities.

"Mrs. Hammack emphasized that like the Army Installations Net Zero Initiative, our contingency bases should also be designed and built with the mind-set of balancing resources, energy, water and eliminating waste that goes to landfill," said Marcus Ferguson, CBITEC program manager.

Hammack was also shown the Engineer Research Development Center -- Construction Engineer Research Laboratory Gray Water Treatment and Reuse System that will be tested starting in June for the next year at CBITEC, Ferguson said.

Her updates from the Garrison team included information on the success of the installation's recycling program and workers' compensation, but focused on the energy and resource use of the post.

Allen Simpson, Directorate of Public Works energy manager, discussed the rising costs of energy for the fort, as the cost per year has risen over the past seven years from slightly over $15 million per year to more than $25 million. The good news is that while the costs have risen, the installation is starting now to see a downward trend as more efficient facilities replace older structures.

"The cost of consumption per square foot continues to drop as newer facilities, such as the new AIT barracks and the double DFAC, replace barracks and dining facilities built in the 60s. Additionally, retrofitting some existing barracks with better, more efficient heating and cooling continues to reduce the overall costs of energy," Simpson explained.

Bryan Parker, DPW master planner, said Fort Leonard Wood is seeing a bump in energy use as new facilities come on line, but the old structures haven't been totally demolished yet. Parker said the cost per square foot for energy would continue to decline as relocatable barracks and old World War II structures are taken out of the equation.

Hammack added that the overall consumption of energy across the Army has reduced by 18 percent during that time frame, but the cost of energy has increased more than 47 percent in the same time.

For recycling, Craig French, DPW recycling manager, explained that costs for municipal solid waste disposal for the installation had dropped by nearly $700,000 over the past three years, due to an increased use of recycling.

"Last year, we recycled 25,859 tons of material and 12 tons of electronic waste," French said.

On planning for the future of Fort Leonard Wood, Parker and Mark Premont, Plans, Analysis, Integration Office director, briefed Hammack on several initiatives and projects scheduled for the installation.

Premont discussed several actions working with the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, including efforts to achieve Net Zero in energy, such as the potential for electric transportation systems and water use.

As the discussion led to water use and water rights, Hammack asked if the installation had a plan if water in the Big Piney would become contaminated and if wells were available. Premont replied that several wells were in place on the fort, and one was in current production.

"Use the wells," Hammack said. "At Fort Hood, a backhoe nicked the main water line to the fort and shut down Fort Hood (Texas). Use the wells and have that back up, because water is critical for our mission."

Hammack also said budgets are down, and every department within the Army feels it.

"With the Army, when you look at our biggest expense, it's manpower, then training, followed by equipment costs," Hammack said.

"If you look at our mission to fight, you need manpower; you want a trained force, and you want a well-equipped force. Cutting those (areas) would risk life and limb. Cutting installations would not risk life or limb, so the decision was made to reduce installation funding," she explained.

"Now we are seeing some of our installations becoming a little shabby -- needing some attention. We've taken some deep cuts in the past three years, and sequestration is still out there. The plan is to restore the installation budgets in 2018, and we will be pushing to make that budget," she said.