The Department of Defense has been steadily picking up the pace of its clean energy initiatives, and that includes the Army Reserve. This week, CleanTechnica had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Tad Davis, the person in charge of a $1.2 billion-per-year office that oversees sustainability programs for the Army, Army National Guard, and Reserve. Mr. Davis described how Reservists are uniquely positioned to play a powerful role as the Army transitions into a more sustainable force that leverages alternative energy as well as water conservation, waste management, and land stewardship.
Army Reservists as Green Ambassadors
Mr. Davis (his full title is Command Executive Officer and Director of Services and Infrastructure Core Enterprise for the United States Army Reserve) noted that the Army Reserve has adopted a full slate of new clean energy and conservation strategies, guided by the Army Reserve Company Plan for Sustainability. That includes alternative energy, LEED construction standards, microgrids, and smart metering; with the ultimate goal of achieving Net Zero status for waste and water as well as energy.
These initiatives are driven by technology, infrastructure, and upper level management decisions, but as Mr. Davis sees it, energy training for Soldiers is the glue that holds the whole thing together.
Davis pointed out that compared to career Soldiers, Reservists have less exposure to training and messaging. That presents some challenges. On the other hand, it presents an opportunity for conveying the sustainability message to the civilian sector, as Reservists cycle constantly between their base, their home, and their workplace.
The flow of information works in the other direction as well. Mr. Davis noted that the Army’s “culture change” focus on energy is still a relatively new one, and Reservists can contribute to the learning curve with fresh insights from sustainability programs that they may pick up at work, at school, or in their communities.
In an article published earlier this year, Mr. Davis described the relationship like this:
“The Army Reserve’s primary presence is in its Reserve centers, maintenance sites and training installations in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, making us the face of the military in many parts of the country. This means that partnership with local communities is a must. We are working with our neighbors to learn what we can do better together and to show what is possible through energy and sustainability programs.”
The Power is In Your Hands
As frequently covered by CleanTechnica (go ahead, google it), the Department of Defense has been aggressively pursuing sustainability and Net Zero goals, both at its permanent facilities and in forward operations where reducing vulnerable supply convoys is imperative.
In that regard, Mr. Davis directed our attention to the Army’s new “The Power is in Your Hands” initiative, which envisions an “energy-informed culture” that relies on both behavior changes and new technology:
“We are examining every way possible to be more effective with our energy use, to employ renewable resources, and lower our costs. All of this will reduce the number of convoys on the roads. But it requires us to change our behavior. When Soldiers start thinking: HOW CAN I USE ENERGY SMARTER?, we know we are on our way.”
The ten key elements of the initiative include batteries and “worn power,” generators, training simulators, accounting systems and microgrids, performance incentives for fuel and water savings, analytical tools that support the more rapid introduction of new conservation equipment (including a demonstration project at Camp Buehring, Kuwait), improvements for certain aircraft and vehicles, and next-generation technologies aimed at increased agility and sustainability.
Putting the Pieces Together
What it all boils down to is a holistic vision of national defense that necessarily includes a broader life-supporting mission. The Army Environmental Policy Institute summed that up in its 2010 Sustainability Report:
“…It is an organizing principle that factors mission, environment, community and economic benefit into each of its decisions and activities. Training, equipping and supporting the Army’s operations require land, resources and people…. The Army continues to pursue sustainability strategies to meet current and future mission requirements worldwide, safeguard human health, improve the quality of life and enhance the natural environment.”
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.