Better known for its heroics on the battlefield, the U.S. Army is leading by example on another front: the fight to save energy.

Earlier this year, the Army announced six installations that will participate in its pilot net-zero energy conservation program. The sites will help the Army achieve its goal of net-zero energy consumption by the year 2020. To achieve net zero, a site must generate as much energy as it consumes.

The Army chose Fort Detrick, Md.; Fort Hunter, Liggett, Calif.; Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands; Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, Dublin, Calif.; Sierra Army Depot, Calif.; and West Point, N.Y.

The Army also selected six sites for net-zero water use and six for net-zero waste. Additionally, to combine elements of all three net-zero categories, the Army selected Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colo.
The sites were chosen from more than 100 applicants based on a demonstrated history of conservation, sustainability and the use of renewable technologies.

The Army’s plan calls for sites to go through five steps: reduction, repurposing, recycling and composting, energy recovery, and disposal. To achieve net-zero energy, garrisons start with aggressive conservation efforts to reduce energy use. Then they repurpose energy or find secondary uses for exhausts and other thermal-energy streams and recover heat from the electricity-generation process. Finally, they can meet their remaining requirements through -alternative-energy projects. For renewable power, many sites have turned to solar.

According to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, the federal government consumes 1 percent of the total energy in the United States, and 80 percent of that usage is by the Department of Defense.

Energy consumption is a vital security concern for the military, as dependence on fossil fuels can make troops vulnerable in the field. By promoting aggressive energy conservation, sites help the military become more efficient and develop strategies and technologies that can be deployed in wartime.