Army Earth Day focuses on ‘green’ stewardship, commitment

| April 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Fort Knox, Ky., has good dirt, so by using ground-source heat pumps, the installation has been able to cut its natural gas requirement in half.

Spc. Dean Kalogris, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Fort Bliss, Texas, charges the installation’s command sergeant major’s electric car, which has been in use for about nine months. The cars, which are made from recycled plastic and can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour, are driven by the base leadership as a demonstration of their commitment to helping keep energy costs down and protecting the environment. (Maj. Deanna Bague | Fort Bliss Public Affairs)Ground-source heat pumps are electrically-powered systems that tap into the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling and hot water for buildings, explained Kevin Geiss, director for the Army’s energy security program.

The base’s soil is doubly efficient and produces Devonian shale, a fine-grained sedimentary rock that turns out methane gas. Also, enough natural gas is harvested through the shale to last the summer months, Geiss said.

These efforts and many others align with the Army’s goal of “Transforming the Army … Sustaining the Environment.” 

Outlined in an Earth Day message signed by the chief of staff of the Army, secretary of the Army, and the sergeant major of the Army, the Army’s theme for Earth Day 2010 focuses on environmental stewardship.

“Earth Day provides the Army with the opportunity to reassert our commitment to environmental sustainability and energy security, critical to protecting the earth, protecting lives and supporting our mission requirements,” reads the message.

Twenty-eight major Army installations have long-term sustainability plans, which include seeking alternative energy methods and ensuring safe disposal of radioactive waste and conservation.

While Geiss recognizes that the Army’s main purpose is national defense, he said considering the environment when conducting operations is a must.

“Without power and energy, the Army lies silent,” said Geiss. “The tanks don’t run; the helicopters don’t fly. We can’t even conduct our training mission here in the U.S., without the electricity supporting those missions and operations … it really is a thread that runs through everything that we do.”

Geiss stated the Army doesn’t get an “environmental free pass.”

“At the end of the day, what the nation is asking us to do is to protect it. That’s what we’re measured upon. As we do that, the question is, have we engaged in all the feasible measures to ensure sustainability?” he said.

Tad Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, agreed with Geiss and said the Army does its best to be a good steward of its four million acres of land.

“The importance of Earth Day to the Army is huge because it allows us to reaffirm our commitment to environmental stewardship, development and implementation of sustainable practices and energy security,” Davis said. “We believe these efforts will reinforce the readiness of the Army and enhance our ability to accomplish the mission.”

Davis said that considering the environment is an obligation when taking on any Army project.

“There’s a tremendous amount of things that we’ve done that we can take great pride in, but there are also a lot of things we need to do so that we can preserve this planet for future generations of Americans to enjoy,” Davis explained.

He also talked about the Department of Defense’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions down by 34 percent by 2020, an effort that parallels the Army’s goal to narrow its “carbon boot print.”

Similarly, the DoD tries to reduce the use of radioactive material by recycling items, whenever possible.

Category: Army News Service, News, Sustainability

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