Army goal is every installation at ‘net zero’ energy consumption in 20 years 


The Army’s goal is to have every installation at “net zero” energy consumption by 2030, but while that’s still a long way down the road, the improvements should begin now, according to panel members discussing Army energy security and sustainability issues Oct. 27 at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Net zero means producing as much energy that is consumed.  Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment, said there are already buildings on Army installations that are operating under net-zero standards, but everything is going toward that being the norm throughout entire installations.

Another push is to phase out incandescent light bulbs which still account for 88 percent of use today, Hammack said.  The Army will finish using its inventory, but all future purchases will be for compact fluorescent light (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

According to information published on the Web site, CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, last up to 10 times longer, and can save more than $40 over a bulb’s lifetime.  LED bulbs also use 75 percent less energy and also produce less heat, which saves on air conditioning needs.

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, said he has sent a note to all installation commanders with 16 ways to save energy.  Number one on that list was simply to turn off lights and other electronic devices when not in use.  He also talked with them about appointing an energy manager at their installation – not give the title to someone as an additional duty assignment but have that be a full-time position where managers can focus on energy needs.

Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers and chief of engineers, outlined some recent construction projects that are helping reduce energy consumption and environmental impact:

·         Fort Belvoir, Va., hospital: Water that falls on the roof is reused throughout the building or for irrigation on the property.

·         Washington Headquarters Services building: Construction along the I-395 corridor in northern Virginia, this building will use 50 percent less water than a building of the same size.  Trees that were taken down to construct the building were used for paneling inside.

·         Fort Bliss, Texas: An array of solar-powered facilities has been built throughout the installation.

While improving energy consumption at home is important, it’s also something that must be addressed at forward operating bases, said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, deputy commanding general, futures, and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.  Energy consumption impacts the number of soldiers and vehicles that are needed to transport fuel and other supplies, and becoming more efficient would mean less soldiers and vehicles being put in harm’s way through convoys and other means of transportation.  Just a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption would have a significant impact.

In response to questions from the audience, panel members said the culture of energy awareness is something that needs to be instilled in soldiers rising through the Army, whether with their family at home or in the workplace.  The panel said they are thinking of ways to promote energy savings, such as providing ways to incentivize soldiers or hold competitions in units.