PENTAGON -- The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment) and the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will continue to enhance working relationships focused on the Army's Net Zero initiative and related sustainability activities on Army Installations.

The Honorable Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment placed the final signature on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) during a brief Pentagon signing ceremony on Tuesday.

Hammack is responsible for setting the strategic direction for and supervising the execution of Army efforts related to installations, Army real estate, energy, water, sustainability, and the environment. In support of Army overall energy, water, and solid waste goals, she developed the Net Zero Installation Initiative. Net Zero has three focus areas - energy, water, and solid waste.

Thomas A. Burke, deputy assistant administrator for research and development signed for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (EPA-ORD). The ORD is the scientific research arm of the EPA, whose leading-edge research helps provide the solid underpinning of science and technology for the EPA. The work at ORD laboratories, research centers, and offices across the country helps improve the quality of air, water, soil, and the way these resources are used.

Given their extensive common and complementary interests, and the success of the first five years of collaboration on Net Zero under a previous MOU, an active research and technology collaboration between the EPA-ORD and the ASA (IE&E) has fostered and facilitates both parties' integrated approach to shared discovery and learning, and ultimately benefits both parties, local publics and the broader academic community. Such collaboration enhances the productive output of each party individually as well as jointly, and serves the public health.

During the signing ceremony, Hammack said she was surprised by the fact that the EPA and Army had already been working together for five years. She also noted that together, they have made significant progress.

One project received the 2016 Federal Energy & Water Management Award. The project started when Seitz Elementary School on Fort Riley, Kan., needed a new parking lot. The EPA, partnering with the Army, Kansas Unified School District 475 and Army Corps of Engineers, to design and construct a Green Infrastructure (GI) permeable pavement parking lot at the school and installed monitors to gain a better understanding how permeable pavement performance changes over time. The lot was completed in August 2015 and is expected to capture and infiltrate over 413,000 gallons of storm water annually that would otherwise be lost as runoff. The permeable lot is also serving as an educational platform for the school, Teachers are using the lot to incorporate GI storm water management into their third and fifth grade curriculums this year.

In yet another study on Ft. Riley, the EPA and Army explored the effectiveness of education and awareness campaigns on actions and reducing water consumption through a social marketing campaign, competition, outreach, and outcome assessments. As a result of interventions implemented, there has been an 11 percent decrease in residential potable water use and they now have a better understanding of water usage patterns of families living on-post. This can be used by the Army to establish other conservation and demand side intervention strategies.

A project on Fort Huachuca, Ariz. will evaluate the most effective organic waste diversion options with a focus on co-digestion and biogas generation. The EPA, in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers, is conducting a feasibility study of different waste management options at the Army-owned and operated wastewater treatment plant and, based on the feasibility study, the recommended food waste diversion technologies will be demonstrated at a small-scale. This study will provide Fort Huachuca with information about the feasibility of co-digestion at their waste water treatment plant as compared to other potential food diversion strategies.

In developing solutions for water management challenges in drought stricken areas, the EPA is helping identify and prioritize critical water challenges and themes that are common among Mojave military installations, such as Fort Irwin, Calif. and find the best water management options to meet their water goals. EPA will help the installations address their water challenges by scoping and demonstrating water management options best suited to the needs of the installation. The intent is to identify and introduce new strategies and solutions that build on progress already made by installations. A potential key area of focus is identifying synergies and tradeoffs between the installations' water, energy, and waste needs, in addition to exploring innovative approaches to conserving water and recharging groundwater.

A Mass Balance Feasibility Study on Ft. Carson, Colo., investigated how the strategy of an installation changes if it pursues net zero energy, water, and waste together. A system dynamics/urban metabolism model was developed to evaluate cross sector impacts of Net Zero energy, water, and waste implementation and integrated approaches to sustainable community decision-making. Data from the installation's energy, water, and solid waste reports were analyzed to determine material flow budgets and identify connections, dependencies, and trade-offs among material flows. Suggestions were developed regarding the optimization of the Net Zero strategies using the systems modeling approach. This systems approach is also applicable to civilian communities due to similarities in housing, offices, utilities, etc.

A Triple Value Simulation Modeling study on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is applying a systems approach to identify the interconnections between energy, water, and material flows on Aberdeen using the Triple Value System (3VS) model. The interactive 3VS model is customized to Aberdeen based on existing resource inventories and will allow optimal resource leverage to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives. The study results will provide a strategy to quantify benefits, synergies, and trade-offs associated with a coordinated approach to achieving Net Zero energy, water, and waste in a manner that improves sustainability, quality of life, and resilience to climate impacts or other disruptions. The lessons learned from using this system modeling approach can be applied to other military and civilian communities in their efforts to achieve Net Zero energy, water, and waste.

"These are just a few of our collaborations," Hammack said. She added, the Memorandum signed today is symbolic. It will help ensure these collaborative efforts continue between the Army and the EPA's Office of Research and Development. "We need to be aware of and talking about what each of our organizations are doing and what we are discovering. That will ensure we continue to work together, putting the best minds and the greatest science to work for both of us."

"There is no doubt that we will continue to cooperate with the EPA's Office of Research and Development in the demonstration of technologies and behavioral approaches that can be used in Net Zero energy, water and waste," Hammack said.