By Col. Douglas Mulbury, Garrison Commander, U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiFebruary 15, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Net zero, resource management and sustainability are terms being used more frequently during a time of persistent conflict.
These terms and associated practices will play significant roles in our nation's stability and security. They will also impact the ability of the Army and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii to accomplish their missions now and in the years ahead.
The quality of life for our customers is directly affected by how we manage our resources. Reaching a state of net zero will have a positive result for all.
Net zero for energy very simply means creating as much energy as is consumed or becoming energy self-sufficient. USAG-HI has begun the journey of reaching energy self-sufficiency along several routes: by decreasing consumption; by increasing our use of energy-efficient, Energy Star products; by increasing our education and awareness endeavors; and by increasing our use of energy-efficient building design and technologies in new construction and renovation projects.
Many of these technologies are already widely developed and being used by our civilian partners in military housing. Island Palm Communities has been very successful in recycling more than 90-percent of debris from the demolition of old housing.
IPC integrated solar panels for water heaters and electricity in new homes; builds to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards; and is assisting us with our education and awareness efforts through mock billing to further reduce our consumption rates.
New technologies are in development or testing phases, and USAG-HI is partnering with our sister services on Oahu in seeking these innovative approaches for energy security. We are researching alternative fuels, such as E-85, B-20 and hydrogen. We recycle used cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel - pickup sites are being added and vehicle testing is underway. USAG-HI is also building a hydrogen fuel station at our Directorate of Logistics on East Range, Schofield Barracks, with completion expected in mid-2011.
Resource management is the key to sustainability - meeting current resource needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their resource needs - but it is not restricted to the production and consumption of energy.
Water is another important resource for USAG-HI to manage more responsibly, and net zero can be achieved in waste production as well. We are decreasing our water consumption in general, while seeking other means of reusing wastewater. Projects are under design to use recycled 'R-1' water for irrigation and to reclaim water at vehicle wash-racks for reuse.
Low impact development, or LID, techniques for storm water management are beginning to be implemented in new construction projects to minimize the amount of storm water runoff leaving the final developed site. LID includes permeable paving, bioretention and vegetated swales that remove pollutants from runoff and infiltrate storm water on-site, reducing flooding and corrosive flows that can erode our streams.
Another way USAG-HI is working toward net zero water includes our contracting process: buying certified water-efficient products - as well as purchasing energy-efficient products.
More water-efficient building designs are being used to capture rainwater for reuse to irrigate landscaping, reducing both the demand for potable water and the energy used to treat and transport it.
Reducing consumption results in improved efforts toward net zero in waste: the less we use, the less waste we generate. The contracting process includes sustainable, bio-based choices, resulting in less hazardous waste and increased recycling for our garrison.
Through increased understanding, we are considering the entire life cycle cost of the products we purchase. The cost may not be a specific dollar amount, but could result in a significant environmental cost or savings.
USAG-HI has a recycling program that reduces potential costs. Also, partnerships with sister services in Hawaii are increasing the capability to recycle. However, Hawaii is limited in the resources available to recycle and reuse all that the Army would like.
Future courses on the path to realizing net zero for USAG-HI include metering our facilities, testing alternative energy sources and partnering with local civilian communities and other military services. We will continue to share best practices and pursue opportunities where we have common interests or can help each other achieve net zero in any areas.
In Hawaii, we are just scratching the surface of wind, solar, wave and thermal technologies, which will help us decrease our dependence on oil and become more self-sufficient. USAG-HI is forging ahead in all three areas of net zero pursuits, but we will need the support of our Soldiers, civilians, family members and tenants to overcome the challenges and ultimately attain net zero.
It will be a team effort and, together, we will succeed.