New U.S. Army Policy Calls for Use of Solar, Wind Energy in Building Projects

The U.S. Army has reaffirmed a commitment to the increased use of solar photovoltaic systems in a new policy memorandum outlining green-building standards to be used for new construction.

“Energy security, sustainability and efficiency are national security imperatives. This policy supports the Army’s global missions in a cost-effective, safe and sustainable manner that will benefit Army soldiers, families and the entire nation,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment.

The Army said in a news release that its new “Memorandum for Sustainable Design and Development Policy Update” changes the way the service branch will approach efficient design of Army facilities. Requirements throughout the planning, programming, budgeting, design and building stages will strengthen sustainability, energy security and energy independence through more responsible consumption and planning, the Army said.

The Army plans to incorporate sustainable design and development principles as detailed in the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 189.1.

Doing so, the Army said, will reduce water and energy consumption, optimize energy efficiencies and performance, and reduce negative effects on the natural environment. Through strategies such as siting buildings for optimal exposure to sunlight for solar photovoltaic systems; installing cool roofs or solar water heating; and taking steps to improve storm-water management and water efficiency, the Army says it will reduce its environmental impact. Options will be investigated and documented for each project to evaluate the Army’s ability to use renewable and alternative power sources, such as solar PV arrays, on its installations “in a fashion that is compatible with training missions.”

The section of the standard dealing with renewable energy says that buildings should be designed for the future installation of on-site renewable energy systems wherever local conditions such as sunlight exposure are sufficient. The standard calls for the installation of solar PV, solar thermal, wind or geothermal systems at the time of construction when possible. Alternatives are also proposed if needed, such as acquiring credits for renewable energy generated elsewhere.

 The Army’s commitment to sustainable design and development extends beyond saving money on construction or renovation costs, Ms. Hammack said.

“High-performance buildings are critical to cost-effective life-cycle management of our infrastructure and national energy security. Maintaining access to vital resources, including energy, water and the environment, is vital for accomplishing the Army’s global missions,” she said.

Saving money is expected to be a significant side benefit, the Army said.

“While the overall benefits gained through efficiencies and reduced consumption will vary based on location, buildings in compliance with the new policy are expected to yield significant energy savings for the Army over current construction standards. Preliminary analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicates energy savings over current design of 45 percent or greater,” the news release said.

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