Interestingly, at the beginning of this year, South Dakota National Guard Soldiers and other servers of the U.S. military established a waste recycle pilot program in Kabul, Afghanistan. The concept behind this effort was to motivate environmental awareness and provide a renewable heat source for the peope living there. Service members are donating their time to build a “fuel donut” made from sustainable materials that makes this alternative heat source possible for Afghan families. Although this environmental concept is new to the people of Afghanistan, evidently, this technology has been previously used by humanitarian organizations worldwide.
Officially, the military’s stance (as stated by Kevin Geiss, the Army’s program director for energy security) is that they aren’t trying to do anything for the environment; they’re trying to lower costs, reduce dependency on foreign energy and improve safety by eliminating the need for fuel transport vehicles (a frequent target for roadside bombs). Whatever the motivation, though, the US military has made a substantial effort to reduce their energy consumption. In their bases and other buildings they’ve made such improvements as low-flush toilets, more efficient lighting, better insulation, solar panels and more efficient climate control. Research has also begun into greening their transportation, especially in the Navy and Air Force, where they have already begun experimenting with biofuels for helicopters, planes and boats. Recently, the Navy announced that by 2020 it planned to be running on 50% alternative sources.
I found an interesting article about Army family housing at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. They are building the homes to be energy efficent. The homes were even awarded a gold LEED certificate. What makes them so energy efficent is the air conditioning units, kitchen appliances, and plumbing.
One of the main uses of energy for the military is not surprisingly air conditioning. Since most of our current military operations occur in extremely hot weather, it costs around 20 billion year to cool our troops over seas. The cost reflects transportation and time. Fuel has to be transported from other countries which are then driven to our bases, while being in danger of roadside bombs. To cut down on constant fuel transportation, the military has started to use polyurethane foam to insulate the tents and improve efficieny. More than likely these methods are meant to cut down military costs, not to alleviate environmental damage.
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