Green Initiatives Support Energy-Savings Concept

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 — Last week’s ground­break­ing for a new solar micro grid at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., is the lat­est exam­ple of a mil­i­tary “going green” -– sav­ing envi­ron­men­tal resources and tax­pay­er dol­lars, too.
The 1‑megawatt facil­i­ty, to become oper­a­tional lat­er this year, will pro­vide one-third of the pow­er for the nation’s largest Army Reserve train­ing post, and ulti­mate­ly it will save $1 mil­lion in ener­gy costs annu­al­ly, Addi­son D. “Tad” Davis IV, com­mand exec­u­tive offi­cer for U.S. Army Reserve Com­mand at Fort Bragg, N.C., told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

Sacramento State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, Calif.
A 1‑megawatt solar array being built at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., like these solar arrays dis­played at the Sacra­men­to State Fair­grounds in Sacra­men­to, Calif., will con­serve ener­gy and save tax­pay­er dol­lars.
U.S. Army pho­to
Click to enlarge

Tak­ing advan­tage of the post’s 292 annu­al days of sun­shine, the facility’s two grids, each stretch­ing about 40 feet by 1,200 feet over an exist­ing park­ing lot, will shade vehi­cles below while gen­er­at­ing renew­able solar energy. 

“This is pret­ty excit­ing stuff, when you think about the fact that we are able to do this and gen­er­ate that much ener­gy for this instal­la­tion,” Davis said. And if the Army decides to expand the ini­tia­tive into its sec­ond and third phas­es, it could enable Fort Hunter Liggett to become one of the Defense Department’s first “net-zero ener­gy instal­la­tions,” mean­ing it pro­duces as much ener­gy as it uses, he said. 

Davis said he’s seen the mil­i­tary make huge strides in ener­gy con­ser­va­tion. A decade ago, as Fort Bragg’s gar­ri­son com­man­der, he intro­duced the Army’s first instal­la­tion-wide sus­tain­abil­i­ty program. 

Costs large­ly drove that deci­sion. “As the instal­la­tion com­man­der for the largest pop­u­lat­ed mil­i­tary instal­la­tion in the world here at Fort Bragg, I had the check­book, and I had to pay the ener­gy bill and the water bill every month,” he said. 

It did­n’t take long to rec­og­nize that con­serv­ing resources saved mon­ey that could be used for infra­struc­ture upgrades and new facil­i­ties. “So it was the eco­nom­ics of this that real­ly got me excit­ed about sus­tain­abil­i­ty,” Davis said. 

Fort Bragg’s ear­ly sus­tain­abil­i­ty pro­grams addressed the broad scope of issues, from how ener­gy, water, waste­water and sol­id and haz­ardous waste was man­aged to how new build­ings were con­struct­ed. The result, Davis said, was more effec­tive and effi­cient use of resources, reduced con­sump­tion and, as a result, cost sav­ings that could be applied to oth­er projects. 

The con­cept caught on quick­ly, expand­ing to more than 30 Army instal­la­tions, includ­ing posts in Ger­many, Alas­ka and Hawaii. Now, the Army hopes to take it a step fur­ther with net-zero ener­gy, waste and water ini­tia­tives. Sev­er­al pilot pro­grams are expect­ed to be announced dur­ing next week’s Earth Day observance. 

These sus­tain­abil­i­ty ini­tia­tives sup­port what Davis called the Army’s “triple bot­tom line” that incor­po­rates mis­sion, envi­ron­ment and com­mu­ni­ty. “Obvi­ous­ly, the mis­sion is most impor­tant to us — to be able to pro­vide our sol­diers, civil­ians and fam­i­ly mem­bers for world­wide deploy­ments and be able to go forth and con­duct mis­sions and return home safe and sound,” he said. 

That mis­sion focus is accom­pa­nied with the respon­si­bil­i­ty to be a good stew­ard of the envi­ron­ment, Davis said. “This is look­ing at our resources and tak­ing delib­er­ate steps to address our con­sump­tion and reduc­ing our impact on the envi­ron­ment,” he explained. 

It also involves work­ing as part­ners with com­mu­ni­ties — those direct­ly on the instal­la­tion as well as beyond its gates — to pur­sue envi­ron­men­tal goals. Davis point­ed to the exam­ple of the Sus­tain­able Sand­hills Ini­tia­tive, which was estab­lished in 2003 and brings togeth­er Fort Bragg, neigh­bor­ing Pope Air Force Base and eight sur­round­ing coun­ties to sup­port region­al con­ser­va­tion pro­grams and initiatives. 

Those expe­ri­ences have proven valu­able in Davis’ cur­rent post as CEO for the Army Reserve, with respon­si­bil­i­ty for its 1,200 facil­i­ties world­wide. “We in the Army Reserve are inex­tri­ca­bly linked to the com­mu­ni­ties, because our reserve cen­ters are there in the com­mu­ni­ties,” he said. “So the thought is, if we can get this [sus­tain­abil­i­ty effort] dis­trib­uted to as many of our facil­i­ties as pos­si­ble, it will help us eco­nom­i­cal­ly, it will help us to be good stew­ards of the tax­pay­er dol­lar, but it will also con­nect us to the com­mu­ni­ties -– many of which are try­ing to do much of the same thing we are doing.” 

Evi­dence of a sus­tain­abil­i­ty mind set is crop­ping up through­out the Army Reserve. It’s seen in a pho­to­volta­ic solar pan­el sys­tem on the roof of the 99th Region­al Sup­port Com­mand head­quar­ters at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lake­hurst, N.J.; a geot­her­mal ini­tia­tive at Fort Devens, Mass.; and in ren­o­va­tions of old­er build­ings to make them more effi­cient. One of the most excit­ing new devel­op­ments, Davis said, is a new reserve cen­ter being built at Las Cruces, N.M., to the most strin­gent Lead­er­ship in Ener­gy and Envi­ron­men­tal Design standards. 

“This is a real­ly big deal,” he said of the plans that will achieve either gold- or plat­inum-lev­el LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and exceed the sil­ver cer­ti­fi­ca­tion the Army requires for all new build­ings. “It is a huge accom­plish­ment, by any stretch, to have a build­ing able to meet [those] cri­te­ria,” Davis said. 

While the Army Reserve builds state-of-the-art facil­i­ties and ren­o­vates old­er ones to make them more ener­gy- and resource-effi­cient, its mem­bers are iden­ti­fy­ing new ways of doing busi­ness that pro­mote con­ser­va­tion. New tem­per­a­ture-con­trol sys­tems enable users to heat and cool entire facil­i­ties dur­ing high-occu­pan­cy week­end peri­ods, but only parts of those build­ings dur­ing week­days, when they’re min­i­mal­ly manned. New ener­gy, water and nat­ur­al gas meters are being installed to encour­age con­ser­va­tion. Hybrid vehi­cles are being put to use at the Army Reserve’s larg­er train­ing cen­ters, and a new empha­sis has been put on buy­ing recy­clable and reusable products. 

Mean­while, the Army Reserve has joined “big Army” in expand­ing this focus to the oper­a­tional force. 

“We’re try­ing to look at how we can apply some of these lessons learned to our for­ward-deployed forces, enable the mis­sion to con­tin­ue, but reduce the reliance on fos­sil fuel” to run gen­er­a­tors and pro­vide oth­er crit­i­cal sup­port, Davis said, cit­ing solar or wind pow­er as pos­si­ble options. 

“When you boil it down to what we are try­ing to accom­plish, we are try­ing to build green, buy green, go green,” he said. “From the big-pic­ture per­spec­tive, this is obvi­ous­ly some­thing that is very impor­tant to the military.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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