REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- For more than 50 years, the Army has celebrated Earth Day, reminding the force about the importance of being good stewards of both the environment and the Army’s resources.
“Earth Day isn't just what we do on April 22, it's what the Army does every day where informed leaders take actions to protect vulnerable Army facilities, infrastructure and environmental resources,” said J.E. Surash, the senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, in his Earth Day message.
“Climate change is a direct threat to our Army. To combat that threat, we are proactively engaged in developing mitigating strategies to deal with the effects of climate change across the Army.”
Climate change is a complex and diverse problem, and leaders at the Army Materiel Command are encouraging Soldiers and civilians across the enterprise to continue developing complex and diverse solutions to address it.
For years, the command has worked on improving energy resiliency, in particular electricity and water consumption, saving both energy and money for the Army.
“It’s all about being good stewards of the resources the Army has,” said John Steele, AMC environmental division chief. “If you are reducing your energy consumption, you are reducing your energy costs and saving money. That money can then be used for developing weapon systems or something else the Soldier needs.”
Through multiple programs, partnerships and initiatives, in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, AMC reduced utilities costs by $78.7 million and reduced its energy usage across the command by 4%. Additionally, 49% of AMC’s installations reduced their water consumption.
As an example, through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), Tobyhanna Army Depot will eliminate oversized steam boilers, adding cooling system improvements. The depot will also expand its Utility Monitoring and Control System to provide enhanced monitoring and control capabilities. These efforts are projected to reduce TYAD’s energy consumption by 20.6% and water consumption by 8.3%, as well as improve the quality of the work environment for depot personnel.
“These improvements will aid Tobyhanna Army Depot in modernizing its infrastructure, improving energy efficiency and reducing operating costs,” said Donald Zimmerman, TYAD engineering technician.
ESPC and Utility Energy Savings Contracts (UESC) are public private partnerships with energy services to make improvements to Army installations and facilities without an up-front capital investment. The command currently has 83 ESPC or UESC agreements, with at least one at nearly every Army installation.
Environmental considerations don’t stop at the installation; AMC and the Army are working on addressing the need to reduce operational energy, as well.
“Operational energy is a large consumer of fossil fuels, and availability of fuel will be a huge issue in the future,” said Steele. “It is about addressing these problems in a mission-sustainable manner.”
These changes aren’t just about resources saved, they could also translate to lives saved. On the battlefield, by weight, over 70% of logistics convoys are for fuel and water, and these resupply convoys result in a significant number of combat casualties.
Installation and materiel readiness are the reasons AMC exists, and from installation readiness to battlefield sustainment, energy resilience is operationally necessary, mission critical and economically prudent.
“Many times the Department of Defense and the military drive change and set the standard for the country,” said Steele. “It can be the same with [climate change]. We can be good stewards of the environment and the resources we have.”