NetZero

Sister Post: Net Zero Strategies – Partnering to Promote Sustainability

One of our sister blogs, EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA’s leadership, recently shared a post featuring a Net Zero workshop in Research Triangle Park. We’ve included the first few paragraphs here (you can continue reading over on EPA Connect), and we’ve also included a few extra photos for your viewing pleasure. 

By EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe

How can communities reduce their water, waste, and energy footprints? How can they promote sustainable strategies at the local level while simultaneously fostering economic growth and promoting citizen health and well-being? I was recently given the opportunity to consider these questions alongside EPA scientists and community leaders and while observing cutting edge sustainability work.

This week, EPA scientists and community leaders from across the country came together at the Feb. 25-26 workshop “Promoting Sustainability through Net Zero Strategies.”

The workshop builds on the success of EPA’s Net Zero partnership with the U.S. Army. Started in 2011, the partnership aims to develop and demonstrate sustainable technologies and approaches in support of the Army’s ambitious goal to achieve zero energy and water consumption, and create no waste on its installations. Hence, the name: “Net Zero.”

Continue reading on the EPA Connect blog.

Deputy Administrator Perciasepe tours the solar roof of EPA’s current Research Triangle Park building with U.S. Representative David Price, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, Stan Meiburg, and EPA employees Pete Schubert, Greg Eades, and Liz Deloatch.

Deputy Administrator Perciasepe tours the solar roof of EPA’s current Research Triangle Park building with U.S. Representative David Price, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, Stan Meiburg, and EPA employees Pete Schubert, Greg Eades, and Liz Deloatch.

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sitting on the Village Green bench. Learn more about Village Green at http://blog.epa.gov/blog/category/village-green-project/

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sitting on the Village Green bench. Learn more about Village Green at http://blog.epa.gov/blog/category/village-green-project/

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and others listen to briefing on EPA’s new Research Triangle Park building that is incorporating sustainability principles.

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and others listen to briefing on EPA’s new Research Triangle Park building that is incorporating sustainability principles.

Read other It All Starts with Science blogs about Net Zero.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Gaining from Net Zero

This week, EPA is hosting the 7th annual international conference on decontamination research and development in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

To help spread the word about the conference, which brings top experts from around the world to advance collaboration and share information on cleaning up contamination—especially chemical, biological, and radiological agents—we are posting “EPA Science Matters” newsletter feature stories.

Gaining from Net Zero
EPA scientists join forces with the U.S. Army sustainability initiative to advance decontamination technologies

Soldier power washes a vehicleEPA scientist Jeff Szabo, Ph.D. and his colleagues are using vehicle cleaning operations on the Kansas Fort Riley military base as an opportunity to advance research into decontamination techniques and technologies. Their work has grown out of a unique partnership between the Agency’s Office of Research and Development and the U.S. Army to support the Army’s Net Zero program, a sustainability initiative focused on reducing energy and water consumption, and waste on military bases.

At Fort Riley, soldiers use high pressure water cannons to clean military vehicles returning from training exercises with a thick coating of dirt, mud, and grime. The resulting wastewater running off the vehicles drains into large sedimentation basins to let large particles of dirt settle out. That’s where the research opportunity materialized.

Realizing that similar cleaning operations would be necessary following a large-scale event involving biological, radiological, or chemical contamination, EPA scientists set up a field station to explore decontamination techniques they could apply in real-world scenarios. The scientists and engineers use safe biological agents as surrogates for more dangerous ones to test advanced oxidation and disinfection technologies. They add these surrogates to both the dirty water from the vehicle cleaning operation and to equal quantities of clean water. By comparing results for removing surrogates from both dirty and clean water, the scientists learn how removal technologies will fair under conditions involving vehicles returning from emergency response and remediation operations.

“This situation mirrors a problem we conduct research on at EPA: If we have large volumes of contaminated water flushed from a drinking water system, or washed from a building or outdoor area, what treatment options are readily available and how do they perform?  The vehicle wash facility at Ft. Riley generates ‘real world’ wastewater that we would encounter when washing a military vehicle, and could be used as a surrogate for dirty water washed from cars or buildings during a contamination event in a city. Not all water that becomes contaminated is the clean stuff flowing through pipes on the way to our faucets,” Szabo explained.

Furthermore, if a military vehicle is contaminated with a biological warfare agent in the field, results from this project will help advance technologies and treatment processes to decontaminate the vehicle and the wastewater produced.

After the research is complete, data on treating large volumes of real world “dirty” water will be available to cities, states, and Department of Defense facilities that may have to treat large volumes of contaminated water.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Getting My Feet Wet

By Dena Vallano

In September 2011, I arrived at the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) ready to learn. Trained as a plant ecologist, I had spent much of my prior time tackling scientific issues with my feet safely on the ground (and mostly away from water). But that all changed as I became aware of the increasing challenges that many communities are facing related to limited water resources and aging water infrastructure.

That is why the EPA’s partnership with the Army to achieve “Net Zero” is so important to solving our most critical economic and environmental challenges related to sustainability, not only on military installations but in communities across the nation.

The goal of the Net Zero Initiative is to ensure that Army installations only consume as much energy and water as they produce and minimize waste sent to landfills. EPA scientists and engineers are providing their skills and expertise to bring cutting-edge research assistance to the effort surrounding water at two installations, Fort Riley in Kansas and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

One of two waste water treatment facilities at Ft. Riley.

Since signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Army in November 2011, EPA staff  have been hard at work advancing the Net Zero Initiative. On July 10-11, 2012, EPA scientists and local representatives met with Army staff at Fort Riley, KS to identify and discuss their challenges with water infrastructure and specific technology needs.

The visit allowed the team to gain first-hand knowledge of the installation’s facilities and prioritize Fort Riley’s specific needs for innovative technologies and tools that can be collaboratively developed and demonstrated by the team. The team identified the following potential projects for collaborative development and demonstration:

  • Waste water reuse technologies and approaches
  • Behavioral/social campaign to focus on culture changes needed to reduce water consumption
  • Innovative technologies to reduce water loss on the installation and address aging water infrastructure

ORD will continue to refine and scope potential projects with installation personnel, EPA’s Office of Water, and Region 7.   A similar site visit to scope projects with Joint Base Lewis-McChord is expected in Fall 2012.

It has been a fantastic experience to work on achieving “Net Zero” with the EPA—I’m so glad that I had the chance to get my feet a little wet during my fellowship.

About the author: Dr. Dena Vallano is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in EPA’s Office for Research and Development. Prior to her fellowship, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.