U.S. Army Targets Net Zero Energy Usage

Casting it as a security issue, the U.S. Army has set a goal of being energy self-sufficient by 2030. The Army is planning to become net zero on water and waste, too, but said it wasn’t quite ready to stake a date to those goals.

The Army apparently hasn’t been taken over by environmental activists; the service said the major imperative behind the net-zero movement is to be able to continue its mission without depending on the civilian power grid. In pursuing the goal, Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment, said embracing technological advances will definitely be key. New construction, she said, “will include things like cool roofs, solar water heating, storm-water management and water efficiency” — policies that can help the Army find energy savings by as much as 45 percent, she said.

U.S. Army, net-zero energy use

image via U.S. Army

But for now, the Army seems to be working more on the conservation side, with programs such as ditching incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. Incentives are a tool, too: In some private Army housing, if soldiers use more than a baseline amount of energy, they pay the bill; if they use the baseline amount, the bill is zero; and if they go under, they actually earn money.

Conservation and efficiency are especially important in tactical operations, the Army noted, pointing out that it not only saves energy, but can also save lives. In Afghanistan, “Security for supply convoys in theater is estimated to require an average of one combat battalion, on a continuing basis,” Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said. “Ground resupply has accounted for some 30 percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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