US Army Releases First Annual Sustainability Report

US Army Soldier marching in formation[social_buttons]Is sustainability a national security issue? Politicians, policy makers and academics may be willing to argue sides of that question, but for the U.S. Army, the answer seems to be “Yes, sir!” Following up on earlier announcements of solar arrays and emission reduction goals, the Army released its first annual sustainability report on Friday. Covering the period of FY 2004-2007, the report notes a number of encouraging trends:

  • Sixteen Army installations with comprehensive Installation Sustainability Plans in place.
  • 78% (301) of FY07 ArmyMilitary Construction projects designed to at least U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® new construction certification standards.
  • 100% (161) installations with an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place with 31% in conformance to ISO14001
  • 8.4% reduction in facility energy useintensity (KBtu/gross square foot/per year, since FY03)

Challenges still exist, of course. Among them:

  • 35% increase in Hazardous Waste (HW) generation as reported for CY03 to CY06 and an 8% increase in pounds HWgenerated per $1000 net Army cost of operations.
  • 11% increase in absolute Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) releases as reported for CY03 to CY06, but a 13% decrease in pounds TRI released per $1000 net Army cost of operations.

As this is the Army’s first attempt at such a report, it used the Global Reporting Initiative’s sustainability reporting framework, the standard for corporate sustainability reports (and the first use ever of the GRI framework by a branch of the federal government). Additionally, the Army adapted other sustainability concepts to fit its mission: the corporate “triple bottom line” of profit, people and planet became “triple bottom line — plus” of “Mission, Environment, Community, plus the economic benefits that sustainability provides by reducing costs and impacts, and accelerating innovation.”

While the report notes that traditional notions of national security will remain paramount, environmental concerns, such as access to resources, has become an integral part of its mission.  It also notes that future conflicts may well arise from competition for scarcer resources. We won’t look for uniforms made from hemp, or tipis as housing anytime soon, but it’s good to see that the US military not only recognizes the role the environment and ecological systems play in maintaining national well-being, but that reducing it’s own “bootprint” could (in theory, anyway) play a small part in lowering global environmental stress… and the conflicts that arise from that stress.

via Environmental Leader

Image Credit: Isidro Reyna at Army.mil

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