Academy named Air Force's 'Net Zero' installation

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- What began as a self-imposed initiative at the Academy has now garnered the attention of Headquarters Air Force, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. 

In October 2009, the U.S. Air Force named the Academy as its selection for the Air Force Net Zero Energy Installation initiative. 

Under the initiative, each branch of the military services selected one installation to study and implement initiatives to achieve a Net-Zero status. The NZEI initiative kicked off last year with Marine Air Corps Station Mirimar selected by the Marine Corps. 

As part of the NZEI initiative, the National Renewable Energy Lab will be actively aiding the entire Academy installation in building upon its already created plan for a net zero installation and facilitating with funding opportunities to reach the goal. Led by the 10th Air Base Wing, the Academy plan will be used as a template for other installations in the Air Force and DOD. 

To expand upon what the other services do with their NZEI selection, our installation will also involve and utilize cadets and incorporate research and findings into cadet learning. The energy culture change necessary in the nation starts with education, and cadets have already been involved in the development of the solar array project funded with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the installation of solar photovoltaic roofing on Vandenberg Hall. 

The Academy has received much recognition from our forward-leaning posture on energy, but we still have a long way to go. By 2015, our installation must reduce its current energy consumption by 38 percent while increasing its renewable and green energy from a 2010 amount of 10 percent to 100 percent. Both goals are arduous but attainable with a steadfast focus. 

"Our Air Force Academy is just getting started and kicking it into high gear across the entire installation in energy and green programs," said Col. Rick LoCastro, 10th Air Base Wing commander. "We've got a three-tiered approach in the way of education, conservation and innovation. We're ready to lead the Air Force as the Net-Zero Energy Installation for our service ... and we are excited and energized to show all of DOD what we can do."