Oregon National Guard: Increasing Security by Protecting the Environment
Serving in combat and coming to the rescue during natural disasters isn’t the only mission of the Oregon National Guard. The ORNG is also striving to reduce consumption, conserve natural resources and maximize renewable energy resources at all of its facilities. Through their Net Zero Installation Strategy they are actively creating a culture that recognizes the value of sustainability measures in terms of mission capability, fiscal sustainability, quality of life, local community relationships and preserving the Army’s future energy security.
On the energy frontline, the ORNG is attempting to reduce consumption by 50% through building efficiency projects and another 15% through participation in Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management program, which seeks to integrate energy practices deeply into organizational culture. They plan to cover the remaining 35% through renewable energy production.
The ORNG maintains three million square feet of infrastructure throughout Oregon which offer diverse opportunities for site-appropriate renewable energy sources. Seven facilities have been equipped with solar PV arrays totaling 357kW, and an eighth is planned this year for an additional 130kW. Two biomass generators are under construction in Central Oregon and are projected to cut heating costs in half compared to current propane usage costs. Wave energy is in the planning stages at the Camp Rilea facility. Small wind turbine and geothermal projects are also being considered.
The ORNG is also committed to net-zero water consumption. A Net Zero Water Installation limits the consumption of freshwater resources and returns water back to the same watershed so as not to deplete the quantity or quality of the region’s ground and surface water resources.
The military has been treating its own water and reusing it for irrigation at Camp Rilea since 1978. They recently enhanced this process by adding a water recycling plant and “rapid infiltration basins” that send more treated water back to the aquifer, 200 feet underground. “It’s a closed-loop process,” said Jim Arnold, an environmental restorations manager for ORNG. “Whatever we take out we put back into the aquifer. We added a recycled water plant to treat that water to the point where it’s usable for other purposes on the post. We can use it for anything except drinking and filling a pool.”
ORNG leadership view their Net-Zero efforts as strategic to developing the security, resiliency and fiscal-sustainability of their military facilities. As Adjutant General Dan Hokanson explains, “As a public entity, we owe it to the citizens of our State and Nation to manage our resources to the best of our abilities. As a result, our focus today and through 2020 is on meeting our Net Zero goals.”
They are being recognized for their pioneering efforts with numerous awards including:
• Secretary of Defense, Citation for Meritorious Achievement, Environmental Restoration
• Secretary of the Army Environmental Award, Environmental Restoration
• Army National Guard Environmental Award, Environmental Restoration (individual/project), Environmental Quality (Camp Rilea), and Sustainability (Camp Rilea)