al.com - December 14, 2011, By Kenneth Kesner, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment is visiting Redstone Arsenal for the next couple of days to see how the more than 38,000-acre installation is handling its recent boom in buildings and population.
"What I want to do is take a look at (the arsenal's) energy performance
and how they are tracking toward our goal to make significant reductions
in energy consumption and production of energy from renewable resources,"
said Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations,
Energy and Environment.
"There's a lot of growth, there's a lot of change going on and I'd like to hear how that's going and talk to some of the people who made it happen," said Katherine Hammack in an interview from her office in the Pentagon.
Hammack said she is looking forward to learning more about the mix of missions here during her first trip to the arsenal.
The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision alone has brought more than 4,650 people and over $435 million in construction to the arsenal. There have been other projects, too, including the construction under way for Raytheon's 70,000-square-foot missile plant on land cleaned and reclaimed for use after it had been polluted by previous tenants' rocket fuel operations.
Hammack said she plans to look at some of the newer buildings to see how they are working out - were they designed and functioning appropriately?
She'll visit the Army Materiel Command, which moved into a new headquarters building in June, the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in the expanding Von Braun Complex, the arsenal garrison offices and more. Older facilities will get attention, too.
"I also want to look at the worst buildings, those that might need some work, to better understand the kind of investments that are required," she said. "Then what I want to do is take a look at (the arsenal's) energy performance and how they are tracking toward our goal to make significant reductions in energy consumption and production of energy from renewable resources."
The Army has started a "Net Zero" initiative with the long-term mission of balancing conservation, waste management, efficiency and technology to bring the consumption of resources on installations to, effectively, zero.
Hammack's stops this morning will include the Huntsville Solid Waste Disposal Authority's waste-to-energy incinerator that provides steam to heat and cool some Army and NASA buildings on the arsenal.
"It's incredibly important for us to continue engaging with our senior leadership, showcasing the powerful partnerships we have at the local level, the work being done to address our energy and environmental needs, and to highlight those areas where much work remains to be done," said Redstone Arsenal Garrison Commander Col. John Hamilton.
Hammack will also visit with leaders of the large Army Corps of Engineers center in Huntsville which, among other global duties, handles construction projects at Army installations.
"I'm going to be meeting with them to talk about the contracting they're doing on energy, efficiency and some of our renewable energy projects, to better understand where they might see challenges," Hammack said. For instance, are they getting the resources they need to execute their mission in today's fiscal environment, where we're going to be seeing budgets reduced?
"Which means we all need to be a little more creative and efficient with the budgets that we have," she said.
Her work is about the environment, resources and money, but it's also about national security and the Army mission, Hammack said.
She pointed out that some of the vulnerability of the nation's aging power grid was revealed by April's tornadoes, which cut power and much access to water.
"When we talk about Net-Zero, the primary reason is for energy and water security," she said. "To ensure that we're able to do our primary mission should there be adverse impacts from nature or man."
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