Communities Benefit as Army Installations Reduce Waste
The benefits of the Army’s campaign to reduce the consumption of energy and water, and to limit the generation of waste, at 17 pilot installations are spilling over into neighboring communities as companies supporting the Army’s effort expand their services beyond a post’s boundaries.
The impact is most apparent at installations trying to cut their waste streams as firms involved in recycling move into communities that have not established recycling programs in the past, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, said Friday during a media roundtable. By answering an installation’s call for recycling services, the Army’s new partners are able to provide momentum to start recycling efforts in surrounding communities as well, she explained.
A number of defense communities have gained opportunities for recycling as a result of the Army’s Net Zero Installation initiative and, in turn, profited from new jobs and spending. “It’s becoming an economic driver,” Hammack said.
Installation efforts to conserve water have not resulted in a direct economic boost to neighboring communities, Hammack said, but in some cases they have resulted in an increase in the amount of water available for the community’s use.
The media event followed a three-day conference for installation officials and staff participating in the Army’s Net Zero initiative. The forum was designed to allow the 17 posts participating in the initiative to share their successes and find solutions to their challenges.
In April, the service picked six installations in each of the program’s three categories — energy, water and waste — with two identified as integrated sites that would try to reach net zero consumption in all three categories. The program is intended to highlight best management practices and demonstrate effective resource management in conserving energy, water and waste streams.
After only nine months, it’s too soon to assess whether the participating installations are on target to achieve net zero status by 2020, Hammack said. Officials are working on ways to measure the program’s progress and plan to release results later this year.
Later, the Army plans to expand the program to 25 posts in each of the three categories.