Irwin, High Desert communities look toward energy conservation


Good stewardship of taxpayer funding and natural resources is a Department of Defense priority, with facilities worldwide looking toward more efficient methods of operating.

Fort Irwin and the National Training Center are no different, even leading by example when it comes to embracing high-tech solutions to energy requirements and natural resource conservation. Several major projects are currently in progress.

“We are building a 1-meggawatt Concentrated Solar Photo Voltaic farm, a waste-to-energy plant that will take our municipal waste and turn it into useable power and a new water treatment plant guaranteed to exceed a recovery rate of 99 percent,” said Muhammad Bari, head of Directorate of Public Works here. “We’re also making use of many different types of state-of-the art energy conservation systems that will help us move toward a NET Zero foot print.”

The NET Zero projects refer to buildings or operations with a “net zero” energy consumption, meaning the amount of energy used annually is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created at the site. The end result from a DoD perspective is a friendlier environmental footprint and huge cost savings to American taxpayers.

Efforts at Fort Irwin haven’t gone unnoticed by civic leaders in the high desert who, in an effort to cut costs and conserve natural resources locally, have sought out legitimate options. That quest brought members of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce to Fort Irwin recently for an overview of NET Zero projects and other energy saving initiatives.

“The most impressive project is still under construction, so we were impressed just standing on a windy hilltop watching cranes move equipment into place, but we weren’t looking at the cranes as much as looking into the future,” said Brad Letner, president and chief executive officer of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce.

Hesperia, a city of approximately 90,000 residents, is about 80-miles southwest of this post and is looking to lead the charge in the high desert’s public sector.

Letner said that “thanks to Fort Irwin’s recent outreach to area cities, we were aware of the cutting edge ‘net zero’ advances at Fort Irwin.”

“This visit will definitely help Hesperia engage our energy challenges and waste management,” said Letner. “The projects we saw at Fort Irwin gave us not only the knowledge of cutting edge methods of energy conservation and energy generation, but also established a personal relationship with Fort Irwin leaders who made them happen. Fort Irwin has set a high standard in overcoming the challenge of time and distance to engage and partner with their local communities.”

Bari stated that Fort Irwin is a major partner in bringing new resources to the high desert.

“We team up with Barstow, Apple Valley and Hesperia Chamber of Commerce and the high desert chapter of SAME (Society of American Military Engineers) to discuss our future plans, so the local businesses can participate in the NTC mission success and our public works staff is always available to support the high desert community.”