Net Zero study earns national planning award

by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern Public Affairs

A U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern energy study for Sembach Kaserne won an American Planning Association’s Federal Planning Division award in the Outstanding Sustainable Planning, Design or Development category.

The Sembach Net Zero Energy Installation Plan, sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District and prepared by Parsons, a contracted firm, guides the garrison on Sembach’s onsite energy generation and energy conservation. The term “net zero” refers to the goal of reducing power and water consumption from local suppliers
to make installations more self sustaining.

“This was the first ‘net zero’ plan for an Army installation in Europe, so we developed a holistic approach that combines sustainable master planning with the results of building energy audit data,” said Philip Cohen, the facility planning chief for USACE Europe District’s Installation Support Branch. “Once we were able to establish an energy baseline, we could establish a strategic roadmap to reach the ‘net-zero’ goals.”

The award, originally given in April at a Chicago convention, will be presented locally at a May awards ceremony.
“This is a relatively big deal as it is the first to be presented to an Army rep (and) may be one of the first DOD wide,” said Bill Holz, the garrison’s public works director.

The study assessed energy and water, identifying potential conservation and saving measures such as insulation and better window glazing, to reduce overall consumption, Holz said. That information is then incorporated into renovations, maintenance and new construction.

“To achieve ‘net zero,’ installations must develop both immediate action plans and a long-term strategic vision,” Cohen said. “The winning ‘net-zero’ formula requires an increase in public energy awareness, combined with facility conservation projects, and the harnessing of renewable energies from the sun and wind. All three initiatives over time will put an Army base on a glide path to ‘net zero.’”

At Sembach Kaserne, where the garrison is renovating Soldiers’ barracks and buildings for new community services, renewable energy efforts are underway with both thermal and photovoltaic panels for rooftops.

“We are just scratching the surface with net zero on what we can accomplish, Sembach Kaserne being the first of several ongoing and planned studies,” Holz said. “The implementation of net zero at the installation level provides many, many benefits.”

(The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Public Affairs Office contributed to this report)