IDF plans for a green future

IDF (Zahal) to introduce hybrid generators, reduce water and energy usage by 10 percent this year, 15 percent reduction by 2020

Date: 22/01/2013, 8:48 PM     Author: Roni Tzidon, Technology and Logistics Branch and Levi Yaron, Bamachane

The IDF (Zahal) is shifting gear when it comes to preserving environmental quality, and presenting a new set of measures to be taken this year. “The IDF (Zahal)’s role is to protect the state, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t also create a balance and protect the environment too – if we provide commanders with the tools to do so,” said head of the Technology and Logistics Branch’s Environmental Protection Administration Lt. Col. Eli Paz. “Alongside the ongoing security struggle, we must also engage in the struggle for the protection of the quality of life. This is a struggle that if we persist in it, victory is certain,” he added.

The IDF (Zahal) is planning to reduce its water and electricity usage this year by ten percent in total – seven percent of water consumption, and three percent of electricity consumption. The ultimate goal being a 15 percent drop in consumption by the year 2020. This follows a drop of five percent in electricity and water consumption between 2010 and 2011, and an estimated drop of at least five percent in water consumption and three percent in electricity for 2012.

 “The army is large and growing, and uses high-energy-consuming equipment,” Lt. Col. Paz explained. In order to increase savings in electricity, hybrid generators based on various different energy sources will be trialed on IDF (Zahal) bases this year.

The goal of the hybrid system is to grant energy independence to every IDF (Zahal) base. While connecting each base to an energy grid, in the event of a blackout the system will be directed to use solar energy accumulated during the day or wind energy accumulated at night. The hybrid generators will be both mobile and fixed, and will be established as a joint initiative between various development bodies in the IDF (Zahal). The generators will also go a long way towards solving the issue of noise pollution which affects some communities in close proximity to IDF (Zahal) bases.

Saving water, fighting pollution

Most of the future reduction targets in water consumption will be met through the use of water conservation devices, which have already been installed in many IDF (Zahal) bases in the past year. In addition, a pilot program has been planned for the recycling of grey water for irrigation on the IAF Hatzerim air base. The pilot program marks the first installation of a water recycling system in the IDF (Zahal).

In addition to efforts to achieve energy efficiency, the IDF (Zahal) is working to manage pollution. The IDF (Zahal) has recently invested many resources into connecting bases and military facilities to the central sewerage networks of the localities in which they are found. In the last two years the IDF (Zahal) connected 18 military camps to central sewerage systems, and this year plans to connect another 19, including two which are already underway. There are a total of 180 military bases, most of which were built many years ago (including some that date back to the days of the British Mandate), that are still not connected to sewerage systems, and the sewage of such bases drains into oxidation pools which are emptied infrequently.

One of the leading causes of pollution in the IDF (Zahal) is gasoline and oil runoff, which can seep into groundwater. In order to fight this phenomenon, the plan for 2013 is to upgrade 17 fueling stations, by building separate concrete platforms to avoid gasoline and diesel fuel from making contact with the ground thus preventing contamination.

“Today, the army pays NIS 70 million every year for garbage removal,” Lt. Col. Paz explained. “If we recycle more, we will pay less. We’ve set ourselves the goal of eliminating unrecyclable waste in the IDF (Zahal) within seven years. We will become a body that recycles all of its waste; there will be dry, wet, plastic, cardboard and other recycling bins.”

 As of the end of 2012, paper, cardboard and newspaper recycling stations had already been installed on every IDF (Zahal) base throughout the country. Meanwhile, since February 2012, various bodies responsible for procurement have begun a more intensive effort to increase purchasing of recyclable items, such as biodegradable cups and small containers.

Cooperating with NATO to preserve the environment

This year will register the first cooperative environmental effort of its type between the IDF (Zahal) and the US Armed Forces, which will include the transfer of research and findings on matters of environmental preservation. As part of this cooperative effort, in July a workgroup of representatives of NATO armies will convene to discuss matters of environmental preservation, and representatives from the IDF (Zahal) Environmental Protection Administration will join the conference for the first time.

“An inseparable part of the Administration’s activities is to prevent new environmental damages from emerging, but until 2012, there were no protocols or orders in the IDF (Zahal) to regulate environmental matters,” the head of the Environmental Protection Administration explained, “which created difficulties for us in dealing with the legal procedures against us and with the application of all environmental legislation. Therefore after last year, permanent guidelines were introduced for subjects such as dealing with noise pollution and the collection and removal of waste for recycling at IDF (Zahal) bases, in 2013 the guidelines will be publicized and become general IDF (Zahal) protocol,” he added. One example of such a guideline will require every newly established IDF (Zahal) building to be built sustainably, prioritizing environmental considerations.