SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2011 -- Soldiers are creative geniuses when it comes to figuring out ways to help the Army conserve its natural resources and create renewable energy.
Take the Soldier who switched hay for wood pellets to throw on the stable floors at the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s “The Old Guard” Caisson Stables at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.
What was once a waste product that had gone to the landfill is now turned into a usable product: compost for the installation.
“One thing that I admire about the Army is that we are full of extremely creative individuals,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, here, July 21.
She visited U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, July 19-21, to gain a better understanding of its sustainability and renewable energy strategies.
The Army will depend on its Soldiers’ creative solutions for energy consumption as it moves to net zero.
Net zero’s goal is to ensure that the Army consumes only as much energy or water as it produces and eliminates solid waste to landfills. By attaining net zero, the Army improves its sustainability and energy security challenges.
Hammack’s goal is “to put the Army on a net zero path,” she said.
The Army has identified six net zero pilot installations in each of its energy, water and waste categories and two integrated installations striving toward net zero by 2020. In fiscal year 2014, another 25 installations in each category will be asked to self-nominate to achieve net zero.
To attain net zero energy, “we need to first reduce the amount of energy used in a building (through) better lighting, better air conditioning, better controls, more insulation, better windows and reducing the amount of energy a building needs, then making that energy from a renewable source,” Hammack said.
Net zero water means limiting the consumption of freshwater resources and returning water back to the same watershed, so ground water and surface water aren’t depleted.
“The Army, as a whole, is ahead of the other military services and the federal government in our water use reduction,” Hammack said. “We’ve got a lot of old facilities, and one of the first things that is being done is looking at leak detection. Just make sure that your pipes are actually delivering the water.
“One installation saw an 85,000 gallon-a-day savings just by putting in portable leak detectors that identify where leaks are -- you identify it and can fix it or replace the section of pipe,” Hammack explained.
Since Hawaii has to depend on getting its water from the sky, rainwater can be collected in barrels and used to water the lawn.
“‘Brown’ water from the washing machine can also be collected and used in the same way,” Hammack added.
Net zero waste means reducing the amount of waste as much as possible through reusing and recycling.
“Everything is recycled or reused, or composted, or some way not put into a landfill,” Hammack said.
She added, if installations can get to 90-percent waste efficiency, the remaining 10 percent could be covered with a waste energy plant. One installation’s pilot waste energy plant, for example, creates gravel that could be used on Stryker or tank trails.
Hammack’s message to the USAG-HI community is to think about energy, water and waste as mission enablers.
“Without appropriately stewarding energy, water and waste, (the Army is) not able to function. If waste piles up, you can’t do your mission, you can’t travel to the range or have comfortable housing or a headquarters building,” she said. “You’ll be stuck with what you’ve got.”
USAG-HAWAII’s SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES
-- LEED-, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certified neighborhoods
-- Photovoltaic solar-powered communities
-- Energy-efficient home design
-- Sustainable design and materials in all new homes
-- Solar hot water in houses
-- Energy Star-rated appliances in houses
-- Alternative fuels
-- Fuel recycling, or turning cooking oil into biodiesel
-- Ordnance munitions disposal
-- Smart-charging micro grid
-- Garrison’s electric car
-- Mass transport benefit program
-- Reclaiming wastewater
•Army Recycling Center
•Army Hawaii Recycles Day
•Recycling drop-offs and pick-ups available on post
•Recycling partnerships with joint services
•Garrison-wide focus on sustainability, decreasing consumption
•Earth Day festival
•Tree City USA status
•Tree preservation plan