The U.S. Army Net Zero Program

By October 25, 2012General

In April 2012, the Army announced that a number of its installations had been identified to test a pilot program known as Net Zero. These installations would be a part of the Army’s overall effort to address sustainability and energy security challenges. The program focuses on the critical areas of energy, water, and waste, ideally consuming only as much energy or water as it produces over the year and/or attempting to eliminate waste through an established hierarchy. (See Figure 1)

As a full partner in this process, the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) has pilot installations in all three areas of Net Zero:
Energy – Fort Hunter Liggett, CA and Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (PRFTA), CA.
Water – Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico (PR)
Waste – Fort Hunter Liggett (FHL)

All USAR Net Zero installations have developed their programs to focus on achieving Net Zero goals and objectives as efficiently as possible, while remaining fiscally prudent and environmentally sound. As a key component of the Army, success in USAR operations in Net Zero will mean a contribution to overall mission accomplishment for the Army Net Zero Program.

The USAR Supporting Infrastructure
The USAR is a regionally-based, federal force that is comprised more than 200,000 highly skilled Citizen-Soldiers with a broad range of capabilities valuable in both the military and civilian sectors. Stationed in units across CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii, and overseas, the USAR is uniquely positioned to support the Army at home and abroad—demonstrated by over 100 years service to the Nation and its citizens. (See Figure 2)

Supporting these units and their Soldiers is an extensive infrastructure that provides services and key capabilities. Fort Buchanan and FHL are “traditional” installations managed for the USAR by Installation Management Command along with three subposts of Devens Reserve Forces Training Area, MA and Parks Reserve Forces Training Area. (See Figure 3) In addition, there are 1,200 stand alone USAR “campuses” consisting of one or more facilities. These are managed within the U.S. by four Regional Support Commands (RSCs) (the 99th, 81st, 88th and 63rd), and by the 9th Mission Support Command in Hawaii and the Pacific region. Until recently in Puerto Rico, all facilities were managed by Fort Buchanan, both on and off post, but recently was realigned to the 81st RSC for facilities off post.

Fort Buchanan Net Zero Water and Energy
Fort Buchanan has recently completed a comprehensive water survey/analysis (in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and is well into the process of refining their Net Zero plans and developing specific projects to achieve success. Their primary problem in water waste (usage) is leaking pipes across the installation. Fort Buchanan recently hosted a visit by the Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Environment and Energy to showcase their efforts and progress to date. (See Figure 4) Operational in March, the system is capable of supplying 100 percent of the facility’s hot water needs with a capacity of approximately 560 gallons of hot water storage. The system also features backup water heaters for extended rainy or cloud-covered periods.

Parks Reserve Forces Training Area Net Zero Energy
PRFTA has a congressionally-funded, molten carbonate fuel cell demonstration underway which provides 1,078 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to the installation. (See Figure 5) A FY12 project is entering the construction phase to install a combination solar hot water/energy generation system for dining facilities. In addition, PRFTA is developing a solar project with over 2 Megawatts capacity (which includes portions of a microgrid) and is seeking to identify network storage and back-up generation as well as other alternative energy sources.

PRFTA has also developed projects to modernize its outdated infrastructure. Modernization of the utility lines reduces the amount of energy lost while the installation attempts to isolate itself from the electrical grid. PRFTA is also attempting to incorporate an energy management control system across their facilities to provide better oversight and control of their buildings’ energy usage.

Fort Hunter Liggett Net Zero Energy and Waste
FHL is working their energy assessment and roadmap to develop their Net Zero program. Phase I of a planned solar array is operational and has generated 1,032,152.1 kWh to date. Phase II of the solar array is under construction and should be completed by the end of 2012. (See Figure 6). Phase III is scheduled for 2013 and is designed to incorporate necessary upgrades to infrastructure to allow FHL to disconnect from the electrical grid. The installation is also installing LED lighting and has other working projects to provide network storage and backup generators, utility grid modernization, an energy management control system, and other alternative energy sources. The installation has a project for a secondary waste water treatment facility that will eliminate the costly pumping of effluent from the waste water treatment facility to aeration fields a distance away.

It is also designed to reclaim water, either for either use on post or for injection back into the aquifer. If approved and successful, this would bring FHL near (if not actually achieving) Net Zero water. In 2013, the post will receive equipment necessary to expand their recycling operations and is also discussing ways to dispose of the installation’s waste cardboard with the Defense Commissary Agency.

Other Army Reserve Net Zero Actions
The Devens Reserve Forces Training Area in Massachusetts is working to identify opportunities for alternative energy sources as well as seeking to provide lighting, insulation, and other upgrades to facilities to minimize energy use. The 9th Mission Support Command is working with local providers to focus on facilities in American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii to provide solar hot water and solar electric generation. Finally, our regional support commands are working with the USAR Energy Team to develop an interagency agreement for our “campuses”.

Net Zero is a concept fully integrated into USAR operations and forms the basis for our sustainability strategy in all areas—as well as doing what’s right as a member of the community. USAR senior leaders are dedicated to embracing alternative energy options and sustainable practices, making the Reserve an example for the rest of the military and ensuring that our Soldiers have the energy resources required to remain an operational force—standing ready to respond to domestic emergencies while protecting national security interests abroad.


  • Ian Donegan, Certified Energy Manager (CEM) is an Energy Strategist/Analyst with the Sustainment and Services Branch, Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate, Office of the Chief, USAR. He has 16 years experience in project/program management and as energy manager. Donegan is a CEM through the Association of Energy Engineers.

    Steve Patarcity is a Strategic Planner and Program Manager with the Strategic Plans & Policies Branch, Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate, office of the Chief, USAR. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Duquesne University and a Masters in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. PA. Patarcity is a retired USAR colonel.

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