REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Army’s Earth Day 2022 motto is ‘Sustaining the Mission and Securing the Future by creating a Partnership for the Planet,’ and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command doing its part in sustaining the mission and securing the future.
In 2021, USASMDC established its own climate change program and joined the Army Climate Change Working Group as an active member, and later requested to be an Office of Collateral Responsibility on several initiatives in the developing Army Climate Action Plan.
“SMDC has been an active member from the start,” said Weldon Hill, SMDC deputy chief of staff, engineer. “Not only did SMDC review and provide comments on the drafts of the Army Climate Strategy, SMDC submitted six projects to the ACCWG that demonstrated impacts of climate change on the SMDC mission, the costs to adapt to and mitigate impacts, and performance metrics for the individual projects.
“SMDC provided comments and submitted climate change initiatives to the Lines of Effort leads in efforts to help develop an ACAP that is clear and actionable,” he added.
SMDC has been an active partner and leader in bringing additional renewable energy to U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll. One of these efforts is the planned construction of a new battery energy storage system, or BESS,-based microgrid on the islands.
The command developed a feasibility study and technical specifications describing how solar arrays and complementary BESS can be used at two different outer islands. Diesel generator use would be reduced by approximately 50% with the BESS, and it would add a layer of redundancy, increase the lifespan of the current diesel generators, decrease fuel costs, and decrease SMDC’s impact on the environment
“A BESS is a device that enables energy from renewables, like wind and solar, to be stored and then released when power is needed,” said David C. Hasley, chief of DCSENG Environmental Division. “The microgrid would serve as an independent energy system with multiple sources of renewable energy that could operate independently of the power grid. A renewable energy microgrid on the outer islands would mean fewer refueling trips, less risk and greater operational resiliency, and efficiency improvements, while ensuring the ability to self-sustain its critical mission at the Reagan Test Site.”
Hasley said Kwaj has unique challenges based on its location and environment, and provides opportunities for climate change initiatives such as wind and solar projects. He added that its remoteness has previously made it fully reliant on diesel generators, but advances in energy production and delivery technologies are shifting the future of Kwaj toward significant self-sustaining renewable energy production.
“By reducing Kwaj’s contribution to climate change, greater resiliency in terms of its utility systems, ability to support critical missions, and protection of the local environment will be achieved,” Hasley said. “DCSENG is continuing to act, innovate and implement changes to meet and defeat climate challenges in its ‘Partnership for Our Planet’ while sustaining the mission and securing the future to ensure the homeland is protected and defended from current and future threats."
Hill said gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment has received little attention in terms of pollution reductions, yet are responsible for millions of tons of pollutants per year, including greenhouse gas emissions.
Similarly, SMDC is implementing a pilot study at its headquarters on Redstone Arsenal to show the benefits of autonomous electric mowers. These AEMs can be charged by both the grid and using specialized solar charging stations in an effort to reduce its pollutant emissions and environmental risk.
“Our objectives include the reduction of landscaping greenhouse gas emissions and the related gallons of gasoline, improved health of the local greenspace, and reduced heat and pollutant exposure to personnel,” Hill said.
The command has also began advocating for surface water runoff reduction efforts at Fort Greely, Alaska.
“The Fort Greely Directorate of Public Works requested a hydrological analysis be completed on Greely’s watershed,” Hill said. “The installation has experienced continued annual surface water flooding issues that has resulted in damage to infrastructure and equipment, and impacted construction efforts. DCSENG is coordinating efforts to evaluate the hydrology of the watershed that feeds on to Fort Greely and to develop engineered ditching and other hydronic structures to mitigate the runoffs in the spring months.”
The end state of the Army Climate Strategy will be a resilient and sustainable land force able to operate in all domains with effective mitigation and adaptation measures against the key effects of climate change. Achieving this will require changes that are consistent with the Army’s modernization efforts.
Some key objectives include installing a micro-grid on every installation by 2035; achieving a 50% reduction in GHG emissions from all Army buildings by 2032; fielding an all-electric non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2035; developing charging capability to meet needs of electric tactical vehicles by 2050; and attaining net-zero GHG emissions from all Army procurements by 2050.
Hill said SMDC is leading environmental assessments on critical mission tests and technologies to ensure minimal operational impact on natural environments. He added that as an active member of the ACCWG, DCSENG contributed to the development of a strategy and plan to reduce the Army’s impact on the environment while becoming more resilient in the process.
“SMDC acknowledges that climate change is a threat to national security and impacts our Soldiers’ lives,” Hill said. “From being an active member of the ACCWG to developing renewable energy initiatives for the command, SMDC recognizes the benefits that come with self-sustainment, resilient infrastructure, and reducing risks to critical missions.
“The SMDC Climate Change Program will continue to bring awareness to the command on climate change, and will persist in providing SMDC with relevant opportunities to mitigate the risks of climate challenges to our nation’s security,” he added.
Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22.