Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Army has announced several initiatives ranging from solar-powered tents for troops to hydrogen-powered tanks, however this is their most ambitious program yet. With the help of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Army is aiming to have all Army installations across the country be net zero.
With funds from the DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the “Army Vision for Net Zero” program will aim to meet mandates to reduce energy as a result of Executive Order 13514. The order calls for all new buildings to be net zero energy by 2030, and it dictates a 30 percent reduction in water use and a 50 percent reduction in waste that goes to landfills. On top of that, the National Defense Authorization Act also mandates that the Army produce or acquire 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.
“The first priority is less,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy & Environment Katherine Hammack said. “If you use less energy, you don’t have to buy as much – or you don’t have to make as much from alternative energy sources or renewable energy sources. So if you look at energy, that is a focus on energy efficiency. If you’re talking about water, then that’s water conservation. Or even if you’re talking about waste, that’s reducing the amount of waste we have in the steam.”
The program already has a poster child in the form of Fort Bliss. The military base boasts solar daylighting in the dining facility, warehouse and gym, energy-efficient windows, utility monitoring and control for heating and air-conditioning systems in approximately 70 buildings, and plans to increase the on-site hybrid waste-to-energy/concentrating solar power plant from 90 to 140 megawatts. The City of El Paso has committed to provide 1 million tons per year of municipal solid waste, which will be transformed into energy by the base.
“The Army’s net zero vision is a holistic approach to addressing energy, water, and waste at Army installations,” Kingery said. “We look at net zero as a force multiplier for the Army that will help us steward our resources and manage our costs.”
Considering that defense is a massive cause of national debt, the plan serves two purposes – reduced spending and “greening” national security. If the military can get on board with renewable energy, it makes you wonder why other areas of government are having such trouble.
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