WIESBADEN, Germany -- Transformation in U.S. Army Europe has provided planners with the unique opportunity to accomplish three goals while helping protect the environment and providing for a sustainable future. That has meant consolidating, divesting and investing, according to Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander.

With the move of USAREUR Headquarters and other units to Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, the Department of Defense is well on its way to major savings in the long term. Army officials expect to save about $112 million annually in operating costs with the closure of installations in Heidelberg, Darmstadt and Mannheim -- and the construction of several energy-efficient and sustainable structures.

One of the Army's advocates for wise investments and energy initiatives, the Honorable Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment, visited Wiesbaden Sept. 6 to get a better understanding of just how transformation is changing the face of the Wiesbaden military community. Hammack toured the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center, viewed the future home of a new Exchange facility in Hainerberg Housing, visited the General Shalikashvili Mission Command Center and got a first-hand look at the recently completed Newman Village housing area on Clay Kaserne.

Throughout the visit she asked pointed questions about exactly how the new facilities were built to meet current standards, to better serve military families and to meet the Army's sustainability objectives.

Garrison directors described the various ways engineers and planners endeavored to incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design tools and other forward-looking construction methods in new construction. A result of that was the announcement in June of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District receiving the first LEED Silver certification of a U.S. facility in Germany -- for the new Shalikashvili Mission Command Center. Likewise the ongoing construction of the new 59,000-square-foot Information Processing Center on Clay Kaserne includes a wide-range of environmentally friendly sustainable design elements including water-saving plumbing, the use of natural light and a combined heat and power system.

Housing officials explained how Clay Kaserne's new housing area was built to meet or exceed German and Army standards to also provide for sustainable structures.

"I think the visit went extremely well," said Carstens, explaining that while from the outside transformation sometimes simply looks like growth, in reality the overall effort is a major money saver in the long run. "If you look at Wiesbaden you have to ask how do you get to that?"

Through consolidation -- pulling people together in fewer facilities, energy savings, reduction in noise pollution, better traffic flow and closing unneeded installations -- major savings are incurred, he said.

Following the Wiesbaden visit, the Army's primary adviser on installation policy and oversight of sustainability and environmental initiatives, was slated to visit other enduring communities in Europe and to lead an Installation Management Command-Europe Energy Symposium.