WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 6, 2011) -- The Army will announce April 19, which posts have been selected to participate in the Pilot Army Net Zero Installation initiative, part of a program to conserve energy, water and waste worldwide.

A Net Zero installation is one that produces as much as it uses over the course of a year. The Army goal is to have by 2020, five Net Zero Energy installations, five Net Zero Water, five Net Zero Waste, as well as one or more installations that are Net Zero in all three categories to serve as models for all Army installations.

"We are identifying installations as candidates for our Net Zero pilot programs to communicate their journey and efforts to reduce energy, water and waste demands," said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.

Aggressive conservation and efficiency efforts as well as use of renewable technologies like solar panels are to help installations meet the Net Zero Energy goals, according to Hammack.

A Net Zero Water Installation begins with conservation and continues with repurposing, such as creating grey water generated from showers and laundries for on-site use, including irrigation, Hammack said.

A Net Zero Waste Installation is one that reduces, reuses, and recovers waste streams, converting them to usable resources, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for landfills, she said.

Among the criteria that will be used to select the pilot sites is a demonstrated history of conservation, sustainability and use of renewable technologies, Hammack said.

"Many of the candidates are already halfway down the path toward Net Zero," she said. "Sometimes that last 25 or 30 percent is what is most difficult."

At one candidate installation, the commander restricts watering lawns to twice a month. On another base, all buildings constructed meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED standards. On yet another installation, a two-megawatt, solar photovoltaic array occupies the site of a former 12-acre landfill.

Appropriate stewardship of available resources preserves choice for the Army, Hammack said. She added that the Army wants to ensure its forces are able to support the nation in the manner in which they are tasked now and in the future.

Those tasks include missions in combat zones.

"Certainly in Afghanistan and Iraq, the risks to Soldiers who are engaged in convoy supply operations makes energy security that much more important," Hammack said.

In Afghanistan, biofuels are already in use at one forward operating base. Waste oil from generators and waste oil from dining facilities are cultured and blended with JP8 (jet fuel) to power the installation.

On some base perimeters in Afghanistan, sensor systems are powered by solar energy solutions that are faster and simpler to install and maintain than traditional ones. Better-insulated tents that do not require as much dependence on fuel-guzzling generators are also in use.

One method to promote awareness of energy consumption in combat that can trigger conservation is putting information into the hands of commanders about where and how they are consuming energy, said Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability.

In Afghanistan, a fuel management system provides records of consumption by activity and that data is made available to commanders so they can make adjustments while not affecting their missions, he said.

"There will be no restrictions on consumption, but there will be an expansion of awareness to make sure decisions are energy-informed," Kidd said.

While no bases in combat zones will be selected as Net Zero pilot program sites, he said some Net Zero strategies will be used on those bases.

"We would like energy efficiency integrated into everything that we do," Kidd said. "It's not just a special project, it's not just one platoon or one building, but it's in everything we do."