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Defense Reform Initiative Protects Environment

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 1997 – If you think Defense Secretary William Cohen's recent Defense Reform Initiative is just about cutting jobs and infrastructure, saving money and increasing efficiency, think again.

The initiative permeates almost all aspects of DoD operations, as was pointed out recently by Sherri Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security. Speaking to the Forbes Conference, an environmental meeting in Washington in November, Goodman said environmental concerns are an inherent and important part of the Defense Reform Initiative.

Pointing to the initiative's emphasis on efficiency and public-private sector partnerships, Goodman said Cohen's plans will help her office build on existing environmental programs and develop new ones. Specifically, she cited reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing private sector participation and reducing paperwork as areas that will benefit from the new reforms.

"We must harness our leadership in environmental protection to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our day-to-day operations and training activities in a way that is consistent with national security," Goodman said. DoD, the largest energy user in the federal government, has a goal to cut energy use 30 percent by the year 2005.

To reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, Goodman said, DoD is attacking the problem from several angles, including energy-efficient construction, increased reliance on energy savings performance contracts, and development of energy-efficient turbine engines and weapon systems.

She pointed out DoD is well on the road to increasing energy-efficient construction projects, with a goal of increasing efficiency by 30 percent to 50 percent by fiscal 2000.

"The services have already executed several projects that demonstrate this comprehensive approach," Goodman said. "They had an annual energy savings of $130,000 per year (compared to conventional construction) by building energy efficiency into construction design." She also said the energy-efficient designs do not increase startup costs.

Additionally, DOD increasingly relies on energy savings performance contracts, which use private financial investment and expertise to implement energy and cost savings projects in DoD facilities. Under this program, a contractor's investment is repaid from energy savings on the installation. Once repaid, all future savings go to the installation, and DoD retains ownership of the project.

Goodman said current investment by contractors is projected at $54.8 million, with the possibility of another $1.5 billion due to two "superregional" contracts managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

To further reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, Goodman said, DoD is working to establish a consortium of truck and powertrain manufacturers and researchers, including commercial, academic and government laboratories, to develop new technologies and materials.

"DoD owns the largest fleet of vehicles within the federal government, and the Army has the bulk of these vehicles," she said. The Army and other services need more efficient propulsion systems for a wide range of systems, from medium tactical trucks, to heavy trucks and combat vehicles."

Related to these initiatives is DoD's push for private-sector partnerships. Calling it a central issue to Cohen's revolution in military affairs, Goodman called the DoD effort a "very brave, small step forward."

That step is legislative authority known as the Defense Environmental Security Technology Investment Partnership. It allows DoD to enter into partnerships with private companies to develop and implement environmental technology projects. The goal of the program is to speed up development of environmentally efficient and friendly technologies and improve environmental restoration.

The Defense Reform Initiative's emphasis on moving toward a paperless work environment is yet another area that impacts environmental concerns. Goodman pointed to DoD's Environmental Investment program as an example of how a paperless program contributes to environmental protection.

The program allows military installations, working with federal, state and local regulators, to test cost-effective, practical alternatives to achieving environmental compliance instead of spending heavily on administrative costs.

The first investment program agreement was recently signed between the Environmental Protection Agency and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It allows the Air Force to reduce environmental program costs and apply savings directly to reducing pollution at the base.

Goodman said the base plans to redirect environmental compliance funds into water conservation, and air and water pollution projects. Savings will be used to purchase cleaner boilers and equipment for the base power station.

"The result is less money spent on administration and more invested in improving air quality," she said.

Goodman said these programs, combined with the Defense Reform Initiative, are good news for environmental security.

"Defense reform builds on changes we have been making for several years to reinvent the way defense fulfills its environmental commitments to protect civilian and military personnel, manage the natural areas under our jurisdiction, be good citizens and neighbors and set an example for militaries around the world," she said.

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