Military to Save Some Green with Renewable Energy

The Ft. Irwin military base in San Bernardino, Calif. has become the military’s testing ground and showcase for the implementation of new green initiatives. The desert base, home to the Army’s premier training center for troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, hopes to save millions of dollars, lower their environmental footprint and save lives in war zones through the use of renewable energy and energy saving practices.

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Soldiers collect brass shell casings for recycling. Photo: Bob Chamberlin,

The Department of Defense (DOD) is the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S.  According to Brian Lally, deputy of undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, in an interview with the L.A. Times, the DOD bought nearly 4 billion gallons of jet fuel, 220 million gallons of diesel and 73 million gallons of gasoline last year alone.

The base draws power from solar panels and wind turbines, uses waste-to-fuel technologies, has a fleet of plug-in vehicles to shuttle the troops and lines tents with insulated foam to lower energy use.

The L.A. Times reports that the Defense Department derives 9.8 percent of its power from alternative sources and plans to expand the use of renewable energy sources in the future through economic stimulus funds.

The economic stimulus package includes $120 million to improve the energy efficiency of DOD installations and $300 million for alternative power research.

Recycling is also a part of the military’s green initiatives, though not unique to Ft. Irwin. The Navy Region Southwest (NRSW), for example, was recently named the recycler of the year in San Diego for their efforts, which also included waste reduction, water conservation and increased sustainability efforts.

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