Sustainability as an Overarching, Cross-Cutting Paradigm The Department of Defense (DoD) vision of sustainability is to maintain the ability to operate into the future without decline—either in the mission or in the natural and man-made systems that support it.
DoD embraces sustainability as a critical enabler in the performance of our mission, recognizing that it must plan for and act in a sustainable manner now in order to build an enduring future. The DoD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) is framed around four mission-oriented objectives whose successful implementation will make the Department more effective:
1) Ensuring the Continued Availability of Resources Critical to the DoD Mission
2) Maintaining Readiness in the Face of Climate Change
3) Ensuring the Ongoing Performance of DoD Assets by Minimizing Waste and Pollution
4) Continuously Improving the DoD Mission through Sustainability Management and Practices
All of the objectives, along with the six goals under them, relate to one another in synergistic ways.
Sustainability is not an individual Departmental program; rather, it is an organizing paradigm that applies to all DoD mission and program areas. For this reason, many DoD efforts to drive improved sustainability cut across topical and organizational boundaries, in keeping with the cross-cutting, interdisciplinary and synergistic nature of sustainability. The fact that so many aspects of sustainability are interrelated is reflected in recent actions by the Military Departments to embed sustainability into critical documents and take a more holistic approach to environmental and energy issues. For example, the Army conducted a comprehensive review of environmental programs in FY 2011, including an evaluation of environmental staffing levels across the Army, to ensure that Army organizations are successfully postured to support both the mission and sustainability goals. The Army also merged its energy and sustainability governance structures in October 2011 into a single Senior Energy and Sustainability Council that serves to institutionalize energy and sustainability in doctrine, policy, training, operations and acquisitions across the entire Army enterprise. The Army incorporated sustainability as a “foundation” concept embedded across the Army Campaign Plan strategy map, where one of the objectives is to “achieve energy security and sustainability objectives.” Finally, the Army launched its cross-cutting Net Zero Initiative in April 2011, a holistic approach to energy, water, and waste that directly supports the Army’s energy security and sustainability objectives.
In the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Energy and Environmental Readiness Division was created in May 2010, combining the existing OPNAV Environmental Readiness Division and the Navy’s Task Force Energy. Since then, the division has developed many cross-cutting sustainability initiatives, such as the incorporation of sustainability considerations into ship and weapons system design processes and promoting sustainability through Navy outreach efforts. The Department of the Navy (DON) is in the process of revising its Environmental Readiness Program Manual (OPNAV Instruction 5090.1C) to specifically include information on sustainability and the DoD SSPP. The revision is expected to be published in FY 2013.
The Air Force has moved to Sustainable Infrastructure Assessments, which combine energy and water audits, facility condition assessments, space optimization assessments, and High Performance and Sustainable Building assessments into a single activity. In October 2011, the Air Force issued its Environmental Management System Standardization Methodology and Approach policy memo, and in November 2011 updated its Environmental Management Instruction. These actions formally establish environmental management systems (EMSs) across the enterprise as the core framework for continual program and process improvement to achieve and attain sustainability and compliance goals. Later in FY 2012, the Air Force will issue a policy on achieving a “net zero” posture for Air Force installation water, energy and solid waste. The net zero actions will build upon and complement the new EMS policies and other existing Air Force strategic sustainability policy and goals, providing a systemic, cross-cutting blueprint that embeds sustainability into Air Force operations.