By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 02, 2012) -- The Army's overall "energy intensity" went down last year, said the Army's lead on energy-use reduction.
"Just last year, overall, the Army's energy use per square foot decreased by a little more than four percent," said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, adding the Army is on track with its overall energy reduction goals.
Hammack explained that energy use per square foot, or energy intensity, measures how much energy is used in a facility over the square footage of the facility. That same number can be taken for a whole installation, or the entire Army.
At Fort Carson, Colo., for instance, energy intensity has been reduced by 13.4 percent since 2003. Fort Carson is one of the installations involved in the Army's Net Zero Installation Strategy, which focuses on reducing energy and water use, as well as waste production.
For each of those areas, the Army chose six pilot installations. Some installations were named pilots in two areas. Two installations, including Fort Carson, and Fort Bliss, Texas, were named as "integrated" Net Zero installations. Those two installations will work on reduction goals in all three areas. All the Net Zero pilot installations are working toward reaching their Net Zero goals by 2020.
Reducing energy use and water use is about energy and water security -- a critical component of operational mission success, Hammack said.
"If we do not have energy or water, when and where we need it, it could lead to mission failure," said Hammack, speaking from Colorado. "So, working with clean energy, and reducing the amount of energy that we use, is critically important."
As a pilot in the Net Zero initiative, Fort Carson is having great success, Hammack said. Fort Carson, she said, is "an example of how to do it right."
Carson is finding success in energy-use reduction with the construction of energy-efficient buildings and investments in solar energy. The installation now has a solar array atop a landfill, as well as ground-based solar arrays and solar atop carports.
"We are on track and very proud of the solar we have," said Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, the Fort Carson garrison commander. The colonel also said the installation is working on biomass energy production and is also exploring wind energy production.
"The most important thing here is we are completely engaged with the community in doing those things," he said. "As we lead for the Army, under Miss Hammack's leadership, we bring the community along with us."
The installation has also made "significant strides" in water-use reduction, Hammack said. Water use there has declined by 47 percent since 2002.
In the western United States, Hammack said, where there are drought conditions in many states, "it is prudent and responsible of the Army to lead the way in reducing our water consumption."
Fort Carson is a growing installation, and is preparing now for a new combat aviation brigade to be stationed there. The 13th Combat Aviation Brigade will arrive in 2013. The arrival of the new CAB means new equipment and thousands of new Soldiers and family members at the installation.
As Carson grows, Hammack said, new facilities to support that CAB will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, known as LEED, or built with efficiency in mind, "which will ensure that the buildings that we are building out there are appropriate in their use of resources: water and energy specifically," Hammack said.
The Army's Net Zero Installation Strategy is about reducing energy use, water use and waste production, to help secure the Army's mission. A Net Zero energy installation produces as much energy as it consumes, resulting in a net usage of zero energy, for instance. Installations achieve that by first reducing their energy use, and then by meeting their remaining energy needs with self-produced renewable energy.
A Net Zero water installation limits its consumption of freshwater resources and returns water back to the same watershed, so as not to deplete groundwater. Finally, a Net Zero waste installation reduces, reuses, and recovers waste streams with a goal of zero landfill use.
Fort Carson is only one of multiple installations involved in the Net Zero pilot program. All those installations are working to develop roadmaps, strategies and technologies that will eventually be used by all Army installations to reach the Army's goals, Hammack said.
"The goal for the U.S. Army is that all of our installations reach Net Zero," Hammack said. "That is something that is a challenge, but something we believe is necessary and prudent."
For the installations in the current pilot program, the target year for reaching their respective goals is 2020. In 2014, an additional 25 installations will be chosen for each of the three Net Zero areas of focus. Those installations will have a target year of 2025. The Army's overall goal is to reach Net Zero status in all three areas, for all installations, by 2050.
Army-wide energy reduction efforts are already underway. One such effort is with the non-tactical vehicle fleet -- delivery and passenger vehicles, for instance.
The Army has one of the largest non-tactical vehicle fleets in the government, and is working to reduce that fleet by 20 to 40 percent in the next five years, Hammack said. In fiscal year 2011, the Army reduced the fleet by 8,000 vehicles. Where non-tactical vehicles are needed, the Army buys hybrid, high-efficiency, or alternative fuel vehicles to fill its needs.
With tactical fleet vehicles, Hammack said the Army's focus has been on mission completion and Soldier safety. More armor on vehicles makes Soldiers safer, but also makes vehicles heavier -- and less efficient. The Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is researching materials that will make vehicle armor lighter, and is also researching the use of alternative fuels in tactical vehicles
"We are in lock step with the other services in certifying and qualifying all our existing vehicles to run on the alternative fuels and the blends so that when and if the market is ready with alternative fuels, at a cost-effective price, we could utilize them," Hammack said.
Another tool the Army is using to reach its Net Zero goals includes "energy savings performance contracts." In Executive Order 13514, the president asked for an increase in the use of "performance contracting," which Hammack said means working with the private sector to make investments on Army property. The Army pays back for those investments out of savings in energy.
"The Army right now is on target to meet, if not exceed those goals," she said. "And Fort Carson has stepped up and has several programs in place."
In fiscal year 2011, Hammack said, the Army executed about $73 million in ESPC programs. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, she said, the Army executed $93 million in energy savings performance contracts.