Getting to zero: greening Army posts


U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Directorate of Public Works used in-house manpower to install the 70 square meters of solar panels at a dining facility over the summer. Energy cost savings for the $34,000 effort will allow the project to pay for itself in less than seven years, according to post officials. (U.S. Army photo)

Katherine Hammack, one of the newest and probably the greenest Army official said the service is aiming toward “net-zero” energy and water usage at all installations.

“We need to improve energy security, we need to become less dependent on fossil fuels and we need to do it now, and I’m proud to say our installations are stepping up our game, they’re becoming creative,” said Hammack, seated beside Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, on an AUSA panel here.

Appointed assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment on June 28, Hammack has more than 30 years of experience in energy and sustainability in the private sector, recently at Ernst & Young.

“I’m honored to be partnered with Gen. Lynch while he teaches me about the Army and I teach him about energy efficiency and sustainability,” she said.

Net-zero energy consumption sounds like a bit like pie in the sky, but Hammack said it’s necessary to use the goal to focus the Army’s efforts. She said some installations are already headed in this direction and that several are aiming to hit the goal by the year 2030.

To grossly oversimplify, Step One for posts should be to reduce consumption. Step Two is to switch to novel sources of energy, like solar, wind, biofuels or even recapture waste heat from boilers.

At Fort Wainwright, Alaska, the Army is putting insulation on the outside of buildings to increase energy efficiency. And at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., they’ve put in solar-powered streetlights that can run for four days. Fort Bliss, Texas, is researching how it might tap geothermal energy.

IMCOM’s overarching campaign plan requires each installation to have a professional energy manager spearheading green efforts. But Lynch said he wants them to coordinate their efforts:

“Candidly, our frustration is that we’ve got a lot of ideas on installations, but they’re not connected in any kind of coherent package,” Lynch said. “They’re doing what they think is right on the installation level. We need to train these energy managers and get them working as a team.”


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