Tag Archives: USACE

Sustainability Assessments drive push toward energy savings

The federal initiatives for energy efficiency continue to be prevalent in our Nation, affecting the infrastructure in which we work and live, and the tools our communities use every day.

These initiatives are in response to Executive Order 13834 which requires the federal government to promote building energy conservation and management, improve agency water use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To support the requirement, agencies develop baseline data for setting and tracking sustainability goals, and provide an annual report of the results to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

This has opened the door to more opportunities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to meet many energy challenges facing federal agencies.

Executive Order 13834 requires OMB to prepare scorecards on Federal agency performance on energy efficiency and sustainability. The annual scorecards are based on data, metrics, and scoring criteria that agencies provide regarding their energy management activities, energy and water savings, greenhouse gas emissions, and associated cost reductions. Performance is assigned a green, yellow, or red score for each goal area.

To meet the Sustainable Federal Building (SFB) goal on the scorecard, each agency provides SFB data in accordance with the Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) requirements documenting whether or not the building has been assessed and whether or not it meets the SFB guiding principles. The guiding principles focus on five areas for both new construction and existing buildings: employ integrated design, assessment, operation and management principles in new or existing buildings, optimize energy performance, protect and conserve water, enhance indoor environmental quality and reduce environmental impact of materials.

The USACE sustainability scorecard currently shows “red” and zero percent complete for the SFB compliance goal, meaning that the agency was not on track to attain compliance with the guiding principles.  USACE implemented a SFB compliance program in October 2014 by adopting UFC 1-200-02, High Performance and Sustainable Building Requirements, as the USACE guidance on obtaining guiding principle compliance.

Leading the charge in this national effort, is the Fort Worth District. The district is conducting sustainable building assessments for selected USACE owned buildings throughout the United States.

Albert Rice, the Fort Worth District’s sustainability project coordinator, said the Corps of Engineers currently has approximately 312 buildings totaling 6.2 million square feet. By fiscal year 2025, the Corps of Engineers is targeting 0.9 million square feet of sustainable federal buildings for compliance.

To date, the District has assessed more than 124 sites at seven districts and divisions, such as the San Francisco Bay Model and the New Orleans District Headquarters – the largest USACE owned building.

“The assessments are the first step in getting all USACE owned buildings over 5,000 square feet assessed. After the assessments, recommendations for obtaining compliance are provided to the project coordinators. Cost savings and energy efficiency go hand in hand and are key goals of the USACE Sustainability Program,” added Rice.

USACE is and will continue its commitment to compliance with applicable environmental and energy statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders.

Volunteers from California Native Plant Society plant native species outside of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco Bay Model visitor center that will require minimum watering. This meets the Federal Energy Management Program guiding principle metric #8, ‘outdoor water use’, which calls for water efficient landscaping limiting potable water use.
Albert Rice, the Fort Worth District’s sustainability project coordinator reviews the sustainable building assessment report with Nicole Davidson, Lake Sonoma maintenance control technician San Francisco District and Loriann Arakawa, mechanical engineer, San Francisco District, inside the USACE San Francisco Bay Model.

Women’s History Month – Persisting for our Nation

March is Women’s History Month, the time we set aside to honor the many contributions that women have made to our Nation.  The theme of the 2018 Women’s History Month is “NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

All of you probably know (or maybe are) a woman who has persisted. In the face of discrimination or what seemed to be insurmountable odds, these women have gone on to achieve remarkable things, or simply to open doors that expand opportunities for other women.   Their persistence has helped break down barriers, whether in the Army or as a civilian, in the arts, in science, and in life.

Women have played a role in the defense of our nation since its founding.   Deborah Sampson became the first American woman to serve in combat when she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army. “Camp followers,” primarily women who were just outside the   battlefield doing cooking and laundry and tending to the wounded, supported the troops during the Civil War. After the Battle of Bull Run, Clara Barton and Dorethea Dix organized a nursing corps to help care for the wounded soldiers.

Approximately 21,000 women served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I. The Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942, which was changed to the Women’s Army Corps in 1943. More than 150,000 women served as WACs during World War Two. And “Rosie the Riveter” represented the approximately six million civilian women employed in war material manufacturing during that war.

Today, women make up a majority of the U.S. population at 50.8 percent. They earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master’s degrees. Additionally, they earn 47 percent of all law degrees and 48 percent of all medical degrees.

About 43 percent of the Federal Government is comprised of women.  Serving in the Army’s Total Force is 174,000 of them.  Within USACE, we have approximately 10,000 women employees, representing about 30 percent of our workforce.  The lower percentage for USACE perhaps reflects the STEM nature of our work; women are still not as represented in STEM career fields.

Within USACE, Col. Debra M. Lewis, now retired, was in the first class of women to graduate from West Point in 1980 and later served as commander and district engineer of the Gulf Region Division’s Central District, where she was responsible for engineering and construction management support of deployed forces and Iraqi reconstruction in Baghdad and Al Anbar provinces, Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham became the first woman to be promoted to a general officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jan. 27, 2012, in the Corps’ Washington, D.C. headquarters. In September 2011, Burcham became the first woman selected to command a Corps of Engineers division when she took command of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division located in Cincinnati.  She retired in 2016.

It’s easy to forget that we are only a few generations removed from women obtaining the right to vote in the United States.  Yet with or without women’s suffrage, they have been side by side with men in building and sustaining our Nation. They have persisted.

Thank you, all Southwestern Division women, for what you do every day to support and lead our organization.

Paul E. Owen, P.E.
Brigadier General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Southwestern Division