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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

Greening the Military

Its not very often that you think of the military being green. However according to a latest report by the Sierra Club entitled Blood and Oil, the US military has very firm plans of becoming more eco-friendly. We reported on green ambassadors within the military last month. Two days ago the Pentagon announced the Operational Energy Strategy that talks about moving towards alternative energy.

According to the report, the strategy has three basic components. The top priority, called “More fight, less fuel,” boils down to basic energy efficiency. That means investing in new technology that can power the same tanks, jets, and aircraft carriers with less conventional fuel, such as hybrid and electric engines. It also means low-tech solutions like lightening cargo loads and finding new, shorter aircraft routes . 

The second priority is “More options, less risk.” This translates into a drive to diversify energy sources.  The idea is to move away from petroleum. For example, two bases in Afghanistan's Helmand province are using solar power instead of diesel for their operations. The third is “More capability, less cost: Build energy security into the future force.” The idea is to build the goals of reducing energy use and increasing energy options into all the military’s long-term planning.

In many ways the military is on the forefront of climate change. Many military personal are able to draw the link between climate change and national security. Changing weather patters automatically means more natural disasters, displaced people, human rights issues - all this will put troops in harm's way more frequently.  Active war will only constitute a small part of military operations in the future. The army may even be deployed to guard water resources due to growing scarcity.

In May, the army unveiled green ammo. It is not only supposed to have a lighter environmental footprint but also be more effective in combat. According to military.com the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR), is constructed with a solid steel core as opposed to the lead slugs used in the past. There have already been about 30 million EPR rounds dispersed among soldiers in Afghanistan, and experts say it provides them with the ability to go up against targets once thought unrealistic.

A naval base in Guam got its first LEED Gold building this year. It will house up to 420 sailors and features  a geo-exchange well, photovoltaic field and a solar hot water field. The 99,460 square-foot facility is valued at $56.1 million. According to a new report from Pike Research, military organisations the world over are likely to invest substantial sums into developing green technology over the coming two decades. "The myriad of military initiatives focused on fostering cleantech is anticipated to have a substantial impact on the development of the industry as a whole," says Clint Wheelock, president of Pike Research.

According to the analyst, 2010 saw $1.8 billion spent by the global military on eco-friendly energy technologies. By 2030, this is expected to have grown by about 1400 % reaching $26.8 billion per year in spending by armed forces across the globe. Considering that global military is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, greening up their operations is a good way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshotAkhila Vijayaraghavan

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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