In an interview with bloggers last October, Katherine Hammack, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Environment and Energy announced that the Army would be taking a holistic approach to the concept of Net Zero. It was recognition that one can’t consider energy without considering the other two key commodities that impact it: water and waste. The Army has now published its vision for Net Zero, "Everything" in a new document. They have defined Net Zero as a force multiplier. They have also asked installations to nominate themselves for the program which will select five winners in April. Installations will have to fill out forms and write essays that show how they can be NZ Energy (produces as much as they use over a year), NZ Water (limit the consumption of freshwater resources and return water back to the same watershed so (as) not to deplete the groundwater and surface water resources of that region in quantity and quality over the course of a year) and NZ Waste (zero landfill). The NZ energy and waste are clearly measureable, but the water goal seems a bit obscure.
If an installation is selected, there is no guarantee of additional funds, but Ms. Hammack has stated she will, “leverage available resources and expertise to provide initial training and technical support throughout the pilot process”. Further, the vision states that the intent is to leverage private sector investment using “power purchase agreements (PPA), enhanced-use leases (EUL), energy savings performance contracts (ESPC), and utilities energy service contracts (UESCs) as tools to achieve these objectives”.
Right now there are seven Army installations in the running for the trifecta of Net Zero. Hammack will announce the winners at the Installation Management Command's Garrison Commanders Conference in San Antonio, Tx on 19 April 2011. This is a bold, audacious goal. But it needs a champion. Enter Chairman Lynch.
In Hot, Flat and Crowded, Tom Friedman has a chapter entitled “China for a day”. He muses on the ability of China to direct a massive infrastructure to become more energy efficient and use more alternative energy. It is what gives China the competitive advantage, the ability to operate within the decision cycle of her opponents. We do not have that same advantage in a free society. But we do have DOD. LTG Rich Lynch, Commander of the Army’s Installation Management Command (call sign: Defender 6) has embraced the Net Zero vision. He lays out the steps to reaching NZ through reduction, repurposing, recycling and composting, energy recovery and disposal. IMCOM has the potential to provide the leadership necessary to achieve this goal. IMCOM can be China.
What are really required are the public/private partnerships necessary to make this happen. The Army and industry, at all levels, must recognize what has to be done to make these partnerships work. Both sides need to realize that the partnership must be mutually beneficial. This means reasonable cost for enhance use leases and reasonable margins for ESPCs and UESCs. And DOD must engage the utilities or no PPA will ever be economical. As these instruments are applied to the NZ Water and Waste commodities, the same requirements obtain.
The Army is setting the vision, but industry must carry the load. We look forward to the announcement of the 5 winners (?) this year and for the twenty five to come. The lessons from these efforts will inform what every city, town and village in the nation must do to truly gain energy security.