For over 246 years, the Marine Corps has stood united in its collective service to protect our nation. As our climate changes, severe weather and other natural disasters pose increasing strain to our environment, lands and resources. This year, Earth Day serves as an important reminder to reflect on our mission, our environment and the need to preserve our resources so we can succeed in our mission for decades to come.
In recognition of this year’s Earth Day theme, “Invest in our Planet,” the Marine Corps is highlighting ways that it is investing in our planet’s future by increasing installation energy and infrastructure resilience. New technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency and bolster resilience will pay dividends not only to the environment, but also to future generations of Marines and their communities.
“We all have an important role to play in sustaining our planet and ensuring the long-term security of our nation,” explained Marine Corps Installations Command Facilities Director Captain Michael Kenney. “The Marine Corps is investing in a multitude of new technologies, like advanced microgrid systems, that strengthen energy resilience and expand renewable energy use across our installations.”
“We all have an important role to play in sustaining our planet and ensuring the long-term security of our nation.” Michael Kenney, Marine Corps Installations Command Facilities Director Captain
For example, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California is utilizing a state-of-the-art microgrid to harness on-site resources. Incorporating a combination of conventional and renewable energy sources, including photovoltaic and solar thermal energy and landfill gas, the system allows operations at mission-critical facilities to continue in the event of an emergency or a blackout. Funded through the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, the microgrid not only allows the air station to operate independently from the commercial grid, but also benefits the community at large. During the summer heatwaves of 2020 and 2021, the microgrid enabled MCAS Miramar to disconnect from San Diego’s commercial grid, preserving needed and limited electricity generation for the rest of the community. This reduced the number and duration of rolling blackouts across the region, demonstrating benefits beyond the installation itself.
Situated on North Carolina’s coast, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is no stranger to hurricanes and the damage they can inflict. To bolster energy and infrastructure resilience, Camp Lejeune is executing a $151 million utility energy services contract with Duke Energy to improve utility infrastructure, reduce energy use and optimize cost savings. Partnerships like this help enable the Marine Corps procure energy and water conservation measures with no upfront capital investment. When complete, this comprehensive project will result in long-lasting enhancements to Camp Lejeune’s energy resilience posture and is projected to generate around $6 million in annual cost savings. Investments include water and wastewater infrastructure modernization, solar array improvements, heating and cooling optimization and other energy conservation measures.
Similarly, in South Carolina, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island awarded a $91.1 million energy savings performance contract to Ameresco to optimize efficiency and reduce reliance on the commercial energy grid through generation from a combined heat and power plant and solar photovoltaic array, an advanced battery energy storage system and a microgrid control system. Completed in 2019, the 22.5-year contract has reduced source energy use by 23% and water consumption by 27% when compared to 2015, while providing the depot the capability to island from the commercial grid through over 10 megawatts of on-site energy production.
Through these and similar projects across the enterprise, the Marine Corps has successfully reduced the energy use intensity of its installations by 20% and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 28% since 2015, while increasing operations sustainment and mission assurance.