The military is testing technology that supports the operational base camp smart grid called SAGE for Smart and Green Energy for Base Camps program. SAGE is using commercial off-the-shelf technologies including, utility hardware and open source control software to demonstrate and validate whether they can design a smart base camp microgrid technical specification capable of reducing the need for JP8 fuel by 30 to 60 percent at basecamps for 600 to 3,000 Soldiers.
Water reduction is also a focus and water reuse drastically reduces the logistical burden on units. “Within the Army, 70 to 80 percent of our resupply weight or convoy weight is fuel and water,” said Hammack. Once all of the security and logistics factors are taken into account, the cost per gallon of water delivered can range between $5 to $30 according to the Army. One saving measure tested by the BCIL is the Shower Water Reuse System (SWRS). In simple terms, the SWRS uses a series of filters, membranes and chemicals to recycle waste or gray water for future use. Significantly, although the water is only approve for reuse within the shower, the recycled water falls within potable quality standards. The capacity of the system is also impressive. Of the 12,000 gallons of water that can be treated per day, 75% of it can be reused which results in the potential savings of 9,000 gallons of water per day or 3.2 million gallons of water per year in just one shower facility.
If successful, these technologies are immediately rolled out to remote FOBs like Afghanistan and the return on investment is almost instant. Each SWRS system costs roughly $170,000. If used to its fullest capacity, the Army could realize a potential savings of millions of dollars per unit each year. It is this type of innovation that the Army is banking on to enhance their capability and "do more with less," according to Army officials.
Ideally, like the Internet and GPS, both technologies that were developed by the military and subsequently commercialized to transform the consumer market, these concepts could be used to support resilient domestic civilian communities. The recent strike of Hurricane Sandy left 8 million people without power. Building sustainable communities that use less power, mitigate risk and use more renewable energy resources could help protect against increasingly complex and disastrous weather patterns. Sustainable technology is not just about being green. Ask the military – sustainable technologies enable mission effectiveness.