LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Arkansas Army National Guard is making great strides in renewable energy sources at installations across the state.
ARARNG encompasses two major training sites, the Camp Robinson Maneuver Training Center and the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center, where momentous reductions in energy use have been made.
RMTC covers nearly 33,000 acres and accommodates the Professional Education Center providing conferences, classes, and training for the nation’s fulltime guard support personnel. The larger of the two training sites, FCJMTC, covers over 65,000 acres and includes specialized training facilities like the Arrowhead/Rattlesnake Assault Strip, Carnis Village, and Carnis Auburn Forward Operating Base.
The ARARNG environmental staff oversees the environmental impact of the two training sites, 54 readiness centers, and 862 buildings, statewide — an incredible amount of ground to manage environmental impact. “Reducing energy use has been a longstanding goal for the ARARNG’s environmental management system, and over the past two years, the environmental staff documented a nearly 7 percent reduction, a significant milestone for that program,” said Darrell Daniels, Environmental Programs Branch Chief.
All environmental and energy plans enacted by the environmental staff must take the entire state, not just the training sites, into consideration. The energy goals of ARARNG include but are not limited to energy independence, a goal that is steadily coming to fruition. ARARNG has been developing and implementing several plans to reduce energy consumption, reduce solid waste, increase recycling, and to make greener choices in their everyday operations. Before implementing any new energy or solid waste management plan, the environmental staff took stock of and identified the current energy use and solid waste to efficiently focus on where the plans and goals should be centered.
First, through $1 million of infrastructure funding provided in 2019, ARARNG was able to build a new 360-kilowatt solar field at RMTC. The solar field was created with an additional megawatt expandability of power production should the center’s needs increase and funding becomes available. The solar field is currently up and running and is projected to offset ARARNG’s current energy consumption by between 5 to 10 percent. All excess power that is produced by the solar field is rerouted to the public energy grid. FCJMTC is working on a similar solar field design.
ARARNG is looking for further redundancies in its energy systems to ensure that there are no training interruptions or impediments. In the natural gas capacity, a second gas line has been connected to the other side of the installation. In the electrical capacity, they have tied into a second substation should anything happen to the initial substation. Between 2008 and 2018, ARARNG’s energy use dropped from 66.4 kBTU/square foot to 54 kBTU/square foot, a significant decline for an installation that encompasses 5 million square feet of floor space.
During the Environmental Performance Assessment System site inspections, the entire ARARNG installation earned 49 positive findings overall, making it the ARARNG’s most positive EPAS assessment ever, and one of the best assessments in the nation. The installation did require some improvement in solid waste management. The environmental staff conducted a complete waste audit in 2018. After the audit, the staff found where the installation’s weaknesses were and developed an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan to drive waste diversion and reduction.
The installation was found to be generating 1,606 cubic yards of solid waste per year including municipal and construction and demolition solid waste. The installation’s recycling program diverts 67 percent or 300.6 tons of solid waste annually, reducing disposal costs and generating an average annual revenue of $200,000 statewide.
In the hunt for sustainability and green procurement, the environmental staff constantly monitors operational and general cleaning supplies for possible green substitutions. To reduce internal lab costs, the ARARNG environmental staff has obtained a $4,600 internal sampling kit to characterize unknown compounds inhouse. Normally, each individual test costs around $1,200 a sample, and with an average of a dozen samples required each year, the kit will easily pay for itself within months.
ARARNG’s environmental staff works tirelessly to meet the installation’s eMS goals in the state and surrounding communities. ARARNG’s Public Affairs Office works with the training centers to ensure that the installation maintains a strong sense of community, excelling in its environmental impact within the installation, its surrounding communities, and the state.
Lt. Col. Brian Mason, state public affairs officer said, “The environmental team and their efforts solidifies our position in the communities as a great neighbor who cares about being more than just a good environmental steward. This award demonstrates our exemplary efforts in environmental science, sustainability, innovation, green remediation and practices, preservation and protection.”