USA — Department to Reduce Fuel, Water Consumption

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2010 — Defense Depart­ment offi­cials plan to reduce the military’s water and fos­sil fuels con­sump­tion by more than 20 per­cent in the next decade under an Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion plan to make gov­ern­ment agen­cies bet­ter stew­ards of the envi­ron­ment.

The department’s pri­or­i­ties for this year and next are to invest in fixed instal­la­tions, enhance build­ings and ensure sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­cepts in doc­trine and pol­i­cy, Ash­ton B. Carter, under­sec­re­tary of defense for acqui­si­tion, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics, wrote in the department’s por­tion of the Strate­gic Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Per­for­mance Plan.

White House offi­cials released the plan Sept. 9. It includes a roadmap sub­mit­ted from each depart­ment out­lin­ing how they will reduce their impact on the envi­ron­ment while meet­ing mis­sion goals. The plan is the result of an exec­u­tive order by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

The department’s goals are in line with the 2010 Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review, which high­light­ed for the first time the impor­tance of hav­ing a strate­gic approach to cli­mate change and ener­gy.

“Our military’s heavy reliance on fos­sil fuels cre­ates sig­nif­i­cant risks and costs at a tac­ti­cal, as well as a strate­gic lev­el,” Carter wrote in the plan. “We mea­sure these costs in lost dol­lars, in reduced mis­sion effec­tive­ness, and in U.S. sol­diers’ lives. Free­ing warfight­ers from the teth­er of fuel will sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve our mis­sion effec­tive­ness, as will reduc­ing our instal­la­tions’ depen­dence on cost­ly fos­sil fuels and a poten­tial­ly frag­ile pow­er grid.” The Defense Department’s eight over­ar­ch­ing goals include:

— Reduc­ing the use of fos­sil fuels in facil­i­ties and vehi­cles while using renew­able sources of ener­gy;

— Improv­ing water man­age­ment;

— Fur­ther reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions to a 34 per­cent reduc­tion since fis­cal 2008;

— Curb­ing green­house gas­es fur­ther through con­tract­ed land­fill dis­pos­al, increased tele­work­ing and less air trav­el;

— Reduc­ing and bet­ter man­ag­ing sol­id waste, such as by using less paper;

— Min­i­miz­ing chem­i­cals released into the envi­ron­ment through bet­ter elec­tron­ics dis­pos­al and pes­ti­cide appli­ca­tions;

— Pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty as the norm in pro­cure­ments and build­ings; and

— Build­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty into man­age­ment sys­tems, and with coor­di­na­tion with local and region­al plan­ning boards.

The goals apply to all of the department’s mis­sion and pro­gram areas, with the objec­tive of incor­po­rat­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty prin­ci­ples into dai­ly oper­a­tions, offi­cials said.

Mak­ing such changes will improve mis­sion effec­tive­ness while enhanc­ing the envi­ron­ment, said Shan­non Cun­niff, the department’s direc­tor of chem­i­cal and mate­r­i­al risk man­age­ment. She added that imple­men­ta­tion will be chal­leng­ing.

“Imple­ment­ing the plan won’t be easy, but it will be reward­ing,” she said. “We’ll low­er our vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with reliance on fos­sil fuels and a frag­ile pow­er grid, and pre­serve oth­er assets crit­i­cal to our readi­ness and train­ing and, over the long run, we’ll save mon­ey by doing so. It’s a win-win-win [sit­u­a­tion].”

The depart­ment has been rec­og­nized in recent years as a leader in envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and Cun­niff said she expects that to con­tin­ue under the new plan.

The depart­ment, “has the inno­v­a­tive spir­it and cre­ativ­i­ty, as well as the mis­sion ben­e­fits, to dri­ve suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of the plan,” she said.

“I’ll bet that [the Defense Depart­ment] can and will lead the nation in mak­ing smart invest­ments that pro­tect assets for cur­rent and future gen­er­a­tions to enjoy and use,” she added.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment occu­pies near­ly 500,000 build­ings, oper­ates more than 600,000 vehi­cles, employs more than 1.8 mil­lion civil­ians, and pur­chas­es more than $500 bil­lion per year in goods and ser­vices. As the sin­gle-largest ener­gy con­sumer in the U.S. econ­o­my, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment spent more than $24.5 bil­lion on elec­tric­i­ty and fuel in 2008 alone, accord­ing to a White House news release.

Exec­u­tive Order 13514, issued Oct. 5, 2009, requires agen­cies to set a 2020 green­house gas emis­sions reduc­tion tar­get, increase ener­gy effi­cien­cy, reduce fleet petro­le­um con­sump­tion, con­serve water, reduce waste, sup­port sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties, and lever­age fed­er­al pur­chas­ing pow­er to pro­mote envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies.

To pro­mote account­abil­i­ty, annu­al progress will be mea­sured by the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get and be report­ed online to the pub­lic.

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

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