DEVELOPING INSTALLATION ENERGY AND WATER RESILIENCE
If a hurricane hits, can an installation’s buildings maintain their mission-critical functions? In the aftermath, how long will the facility’s hospital have access to potable water and electricity?
These are the questions answered by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Rumanda Young, Ph.D., associate technical director of Environmental Engineering and Modeling, and customer manager with the Applied Research Planning Support Center (ARPSC) in Fort Worth, Texas. The ARPSC team is partnering with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) districts, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force to develop installation energy and water plans. The plans build resilience into energy and water systems – into infrastructure and into the systems themselves – for mission continuance in the face of worst-case scenarios, such as floods or hurricanes.
“The ARPSC is part of the ERDC Environmental Laboratory [EL] due to the technological and modeling aspects of our work,” Young said. “The Installation Energy and Water Plan [IEWP, July 26, 2018] mission is conducted mostly by a partnership between the ERDC Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and EL, but we draw research power from all seven of ERDC’s laboratories.
“The Army IEWP is not sustainability for its own sake. The goal of the plan is to ensure operational readiness and mission-critical preparation. The Army has rolled up the seven energy and water planning requirements into the one IEWP.
“The mandate stipulated in laws such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and executive orders, establish federal requirements, and as we strive to meet them through the IEWP, we’re testing new processes or new technologies to help installations meet the requirements. We test the beta version, then turn the information over to the districts and installations to pass on and implement.
“Army Installation Management Command has decided to create IEWPs for seven installations, but they’ve only named six so far: Fort Belvoir, Fort Detrick, Fort George G. Meade, Fort Gordon, the U.S. Army Garrison-Miami, and White Sands Missile Range. The top IEWP priorities are efficiency and redundancy, and every tenant has to be on board with the plan.”
Young said that when the United States first started producing electricity, it was done at a district level and was called distributed generation. “In that capacity, each plant only served a small community,” she said. “Over time, we built behemoth plants fired by coal, natural gas, nuclearpower – and everything became connected.
“National defense came full circle to district-level distributed generation. We’re still on the national grid, but we want our own reliability in the event a disaster strikes.”
Young said that it’s relatively new that water has been considered on a plane equal to energy, but water considerations present more challenges.
“We’re trying to come up with new ideas to recycle and reuse; we’re collecting rainwater, using greywater,” she said. “With water, we don’t have as many options as we do energy, as many times it is sole sourced. But there is an efficiency piece as well for both energy and water. Efficiency conservation measures are just as important as developing redundancies.
“Redundancies are back-up configurations that support electricity generators. Microgridding ensures energy security for mission-critical loads by having your own grid in place to support the installation. Solar, wind, hydroelectricity – these can all help power a micro-grid for the entire installation. And then there is installation-level battery storage.
“We are also using stakeholder input to determine how we’re going to prioritize projects. For example, a priority project might be adding cogeneration, or the generation of electricity through heat and power combined; next, we’ll ask: ‘What’s our return on investment? How will this get funded?’
“Once the tenant approves the installation plan, they are provided with a clear-cut roadmap to get there. The modeling tools utilized by ERDC researchers can simulate many different paths to achieving the endpoint, and these tools factor in considerations such as what installations can afford and achieve, and what is practicable. The installation has to be part of the plan; since they have to execute it, the plan must be financially and environmentally achievable.
“We’re leveraging what welearn across service lines. When a federal mandate is issued, each service branch has its own interpretation of the law or executive order. The Army and the Air Force have different interpretations of the plan: the Air Force has the Installation Energy Plan. We’re all doing things a little differently, but we’ll learn from each other to forge a really solid path forward.”
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Rumanda Young, Ph.D., associate technical director, Environmental Engineering and Modeling, and customer manager with the Applied Research Planning Support Center (ARPSC) in Fort Worth, Texas. The ARPSC team is developing installation energy and water plans for the Army and installation energy plans for the Air Force, drawing on the research power of ERDC’s seven laboratories.
For more information, please contact Susan Wolters, USACE IEWP program lead, at Susan.R.Wolters@usace.army.mil, or Rumanda Young, at Rumanda.K.Young@usace.army.mil. n