Story by Jonelle Kimbrough
Strategic Communicator, Army Reserve Sustainability Programs
Two sustainability professionals from the United States Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate participated in the 2018 Sandhills Clean Energy Summit on March 9 and 10 near Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Paul Wirt, Chief of the Army Reserve Sustainability Programs Branch, delivered the event’s key note speech. Heather Brown, Senior Sustainability Advisor, delivered a presentation on renewable energy projects in the Army Reserve.
The Sandhills Clean Energy Summit is an initiative of Sustainable Sandhills, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability on and in the region surrounding Fort Bragg.
Now in its fourth year, the Sandhills Clean Energy Summit featured participants from the State of North Carolina, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Fayetteville Public Works Commission, Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works, Duke Energy, and Sierra Club.
Hanah Ehrenreich, Executive Director of Sustainable Sandhills, chose the Army Reserve to join such an esteemed group of participants because the Command has developed a far-reaching reputation for cutting-edge programs and notable accomplishments.
“The Sandhills region of North Carolina is a hub for military- and community-led sustainability planning,” she said. “The Army Reserve has demonstrated leadership in sustainability that supports Army infrastructure, clean technology, and mission readiness.”
Sustainable Sandhills has personal connections to the Army Reserve as well. When Wirt was Chief of the Environmental Management Branch at Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Public Works, his team was instrumental in the development and implementation of Sustainable Sandhills as an integral part of the installation’s sustainability initiative. Brown served as Development Director for the organization from December 2007 until December 2010.
For Wirt and Brown, the Sandhills Clean Energy Summit was a prime opportunity to impart the Army Reserve’s successes, share its innovative approaches with a broad audience, and build important partnerships with community agencies.
“Energy and water are critical to nearly every aspect of the Army Reserve’s mission,” said Wirt. “Yet, we face many threats to our resources. We must secure our energy and water assets, for now and for the future. Clean energy will be a key component of our holistic initiatives, as we push the Army Reserve toward true resilience and even energy and water independence. We were pleased to share our energy and water visions with our colleagues in sustainability at this event, and we were especially honored to do so in the Fort Bragg community, which could be considered the ‘cradle of sustainability’ for the entire Army.”
“Almost 800 Army Reserve Centers are located in communities across the country,” Brown added. “It is imperative that we maintain strong relationships with community organizations such as Sustainable Sandhills to ensure that we are good neighbors and stewards. These communities support the Army Reserve with Soldiers, their Families, and their resources. We’re all ultimately striving to reach one goal: to be sustainable and resilient in the face of ever-changing challenges. By sharing successes, lessons learned, and expertise with each other, we are building enduring relationships that benefit both the Army Reserve and the communities that we serve.”
At the Sandhills Clean Energy Summit, Addison “Tad” Davis introduced Wirt as the key note presenter. Davis is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and the Environment. He is also a founding and current member of the Sustainable Sandhills Board of Directors.
Wirt and Brown discussed the Army Reserve’s multifaceted energy and water security efforts in their presentations. In accordance with its Energy Security and Water Security Implementation Strategies, the Command is striving to reduce its energy and water use, increase its energy and water efficiency, leverage renewable and alternative energy and water sources, and create a culture of resource-conscious Soldiers, Civilians, and Families. The Army Reserve as a whole reduced its energy use intensity by 17.7 percent in fiscal year 2017, compared to the fiscal year 2015 baseline, and it has reduced its water use intensity by 43 percent since fiscal year 2007. Advanced technologies such as automated building controls and rainwater harvesting pilots improved the energy and water efficiency of its facilities. Eighty renewable energy projects – including solar arrays and wind turbines – generated nearly 48 million British Thermal Units of power for the enterprise last year.
The Army Reserve’s energy and water initiatives will bolster the Command’s energy and water security and enhance its readiness. According to Ehrenreich, the enterprise’s achievements and lessons learned will also contribute to the cause of clean energy throughout the state of North Carolina.
“North Carolina has great capacity for solar, wind, and biogas energy production,” she explained. “At the Clean Energy Summit this year, we focused on the goal of 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050. The military has directly experienced the benefits of implementing renewable technologies in garrisons, and the use of renewable technologies has reduced and prevented security impacts across the globe. We were excited to learn best management practices from the Army Reserve.”
Visit sustainablesandhills.org for more information about sustainability in the Fort Bragg region.