Sunday, October 31, 2010

LTG Van Antwerp, Inventor’s Son and Energy Cheerleader

From the AUSA Meeting and Convention, Washington D.C. This is the follow up to our previous post on the Army’s Energy Security Panel that featured, the HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, LTG Rick Lynch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/ Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers); and LTG Michael A. Vane Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARCIC). Prior to the panel discussion, Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli provided their thoughts and guidance to a crowd of over 200 military, civilian and industry participants. LTG Lynch’s comments were followed by LTG Van Antwerp (pictured)

LTG Van Antwerp is the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE). He is also the son of the inventor of the belt drive turntable. The general described a childhood with a basement full of inventions and a father who would say, “Now, let’s think about this.”. An inquisitive mind is exactly what is required for his post and he has demonstrated the ability to turn inspiration into innovation and implementation. He is also a self-described “cheerleader for energy”. He may also be the only three star with his own blog! Van Antwerp talked about the goals the Corps has set for itself in energy. He also played a short video called “Did You Know”. If you have not seen this, you must. It describes a world of complexity, of information overload and constant change with which many are ill prepared to cope. We must become masters of innovation for this world. One of those innovations might be to collocate the responsibility to build and maintain the Army's permanent infrastructure.

Today, the USACOE is responsible for the military construction of new facilities to the standard of LEED Silver. But they are also graded on the number of square feet they build per dollar. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) is responsible for the cost of maintaining these buildings, but has little say in the specifications for them. LEED Silver is a good standard, but in some cases, LEED points can be gained by attributes that do not affect building efficiency. Each bicycle rack is one point. One rack, one point; five racks, five points. Double paned windows and spray foam insulation for the roof might be a better energy investment, but they don’t increase the square feet and do increase the sunk cost. They reduce the cost to maintain, but that is on someone else’s books.

We are sure that USACOE and IMCOM are working closely to balance the equation and the books. But just in case they are not, it is worth a look. LTG Van Antwerp is clearly motivated to help realize the ASA, IE&E’s vision for net zero energy, water and waste and has some innovative programs such as rain water capture at the Fort Belvoir hospital to demonstrate that commitment. Cheerleaders are great, but we need players that can get in the game and hit as well.

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