Army represents and shines at 2024 Energy Exchange

By Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for IE&E, Energy & SustainabilityApril 10, 2024

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Energy Exchange, one of the largest energy-focused training and trade show events in the United States, was held in Pittsburgh on March 25-28, 2024. Among the 2,600 participants were over 300 Army attendees, representing almost all installations and components.

The Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program, or FEMP, hosted the event, which brought together federal, state and local government agencies, utilities and private industry to share information, technologies, policies and lessons learned, with a goal to enable federal agencies to become more energy and water efficient and resilient.

A number of high-level speakers including Brendan Owens, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment; and Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment; kicked off the multi-day event with an opening plenary session that celebrated the critical role federal energy professionals play in our national defense mission. Jacobson shared the stage with Philip McNamara, Assistant Secretary for Administration for the Department of Transportation and Kimberly Patrick, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Mission Support for the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have a huge Army team here, and I want to thank them for their professionalism and accomplishments,” Jacobson stated as she began her comments.

In keeping with the event’s theme, “Empowering the Energy Transition,” Jacobson spoke about the many reasons for a clean energy transition, noting the localized and global effects of climate change.

“It affects training. We cannot train if we must be evacuated due to fires or floods,” she stated. “Think of how all those events force the Army to deploy as part of first responders. Our National Guard is now regularly responding to natural disasters.”

Jacobson also highlighted the successful long-term planning of Army installations such as Fort Hunter Liggett in California, which is now close to achieving net-zero energy status, and Camp Rilea in Oregon, which achieved net-zero water status back in 2012.

Army leaders and energy managers participated throughout Energy Exchange as guest speakers, moderators and attendees. Christine Ploschke, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability, was a panelist for Federal Water Management 101, a training session for beginner water managers. She advised attendees on how to present a data-supported business case to effectively champion projects for funding. She also participated on the DoD Deputy Assistant Secretary panel with her counterparts from the Air Force and Navy, where she provided insights on key Army strategies that drive energy and water resilience considerations in all facets of planning and decision-making.

“The Army Installations Strategy has clearly established that the installation is part of the mission, part of the fight,” she said.

Ploschke also highlighted the strategy’s “significant focus on installation and operational energy, directing specific initiatives that not only help the Army to mitigate or adapt to climate change, but increase our capability to train, deploy, fight, and win, despite increasingly contested fuel logistics.”

Robert Hughes, director of the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, joined his colleagues Kirk Phillips, Air Force Office of Energy Assurance and Matthew Haupt, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, during an informative DoD Tri-Service discussion panel on specific energy-resilient installation initiatives at the implementation level.

Energy Exchange also offered an opportunity to recognize successes through the FEMP 50001 Ready and 2023 Energy and Water Management Awards ceremonies. ISO 50001 is the internationally recognized framework for implementing an organizational energy management system. The Army was recognized for achieving ISO status at several installations and for helping FEMP to develop template documents that are now used across the program for all participating agencies. In accepting the award on behalf of the Army, Ploschke stated, “50001 is informing our approach to writing new energy and water management Army regulations, guidance, and training to create holistic, integrated policies and procedures.”

For the first time, FEMP opened its Energy and Water Management Awards ceremony to the entire Energy Exchange audience, allowing them to celebrate their peers. The U.S. Army was broadly recognized, with Army winners in all four categories, many of whom are also 2023 Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Award winners.

The event closed on a high note, with an Army townhall led by key Army energy leaders from Army headquarters and commands, including the National Guard and Army Reserve. The townhall gave Army energy leaders a chance to provide updates and answer questions from the hundreds of Army attendees, and to remind the Army energy workforce about the important role they play in strengthening Army readiness and supporting the warfighting mission.