Sustainability: A means to a resilient U.S. Army

A sustainable world means that our resources are in balance.  The Army strives to balance our use of resources. When our resources are in balance, when we have assured access to reliable supplies of energy and water, we are a more resilient Army. 

The Army prioritizes incorporating innovative sustainability solutions into the way we do business. We have made significant progress but know there is more to be done.

The Army is one of the Nation’s top consumers of energy, uses a substantial amount of water, and generates significant amounts of waste. 

We launched the Net Zero initiative and identified 17 pilot installations to serve as test beds for new solutions, approaches, and technologies.  These pilot installations are working to reduce their overall consumption of energy and water, as well as generation of waste down to a rate of zero.  By institutionalizing best practices and lessons learned from these installations we will roll Net Zero out to all Army installations this year.

Assured access to reliable supplies of energy, or “energy security,” is critical.  Improving energy security requires us to start by improving our energy efficiency.  The Army is leveraging private-sector talent and financing to increase our energy efficiency through energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs).  The Army has the most robust ESPC program in the Federal government.  In the past two years, the Army has issued over $498 million in ESPCs, exceeding our goal under the President’s Performance Contracting Challenge.

We also must develop large-scale renewable energy solutions on Army installations. To accomplish this we established the Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF).  The EITF is a focused team of energy, finance, and acquisition personnel who work to identify and develop projects that leverage private-sector expertise and financing for a long-term power purchase agreement.  Nine projects are underway, and we are currently assessing or validating another 4 gigawatts of potential projects. 

On the battlefield, the Army is fielding an array of new technologies that help us reduce our use of fuel and water, such as solar-powered blankets, lighter, more efficient batteries, and water reuse systems.  These technologies will increase our energy security and reduce the burden on our energy and water supply, while still providing the power and resources needed by our soldiers.

As we prepare for the future, we are assessing the impact climate change will have on Army facilities and military capabilities.  We are beginning to integrate climate change considerations into our Real Property Master Plans and our Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans.  This year, we will conduct screening-level vulnerability assessments of our coastal and tidal facilities. 

In response to these risks and vulnerabilities, we are working to build a resilient Army that can rapidly adapt to change at home and abroad while performing our mission with constrained resources.  Our installations will become platforms of stability that promote resiliency and endurance today and well into the future. 

 

The Honorable Katherine Hammack is Assistant Secretary of the United States Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment. She is the architect of the Army's Net Zero initiative. Prior to her appointment by President Obama, Hammack helped lead Ernst & Young LLP’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice.

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