Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 11, 2013


Host: Ted Simons

National Guard Sustainability


  • The National Guard strives for sustainability in its efforts to protect our nation. Retired Lt. Col. Joe Knott served as the National Guard’s Sustainability and Energy program manager and will discuss the Guard’s effort to go green and sustainability in the military. Knott is now a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability.
Guests:
  • Retired Lt. Col. Joe Knott - National Guard’s Sustainability and Energy program manager
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: sustainability, ASU, National Guard, energy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons; Protecting the country is job one for the nation's military. How much is protecting the environment fit into that job description? Here to discuss the military's efforts to go grow is retired lieutenant colonel Joe Knott, now a doctoral candidate at ASU's school of sustainability. Good to have you.
Joe Knott: Good to be here.
Ted Simons: What does that mean?
Joe Knott: It means that besides doing the Army's mission of doing what the country asks us to do fighting and winning wars, do it sustainably, lower greenhouse gas, more renewable energy, less dependence on fossil fuels. Doing things we have to get done but doing it more efficiently, less impact on the environment.
Ted Simons: Talk about the Arizona guard in particular. Talk about efforts there to go Green.
Joe Knott: Arizona guard just about to give a plug here but the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense of the United States once a year issues an award to a sustainable person who has made the most impact worldwide on the Department of Defense. Winner this year, Arizona national guard. Leading the way on renewable energy at their facilities in Buckeye, Flagstaff, solar, wind, new types of technology, education. The Army and the Army guard in Arizona educating their soldiers. The soldiers we have now that come in are young, they want to do the right thing, serve their country. So we owe them as leaders the tools to do that.
Ted Simons: How do those efforts coincide with security efforts?
Joe Knott: You can't separate them. Again, national security, the Army job is to defend the country and do what we're asked to by the American people. At the same time, dependence on fossil fuels is a national security issue, it costs billions of dollars. Most importantly in my opinion people's lives. Afghanistan, perfect example where every 24 convoys one of 24 unfortunately experiences a terrorist attack, an IED, a soldier, airman or Navy man will be injured or unfortunately killed. That's where in my opinion last ten years in the Pentagon I saw the change where we always meant to do good but when you show less fuel is needed in a place like Afghanistan less soldiers were hurt and killed, the light came on. It's made a culture change that started in the Army in the Department of Defense.
Ted Simons: Is DOD starting to understand this?
Joe Knott: They are getting it. They are getting this three decades ago I'm a tree hugger. Two decades ago there were not a lot of tree huggers in the Pentagon. I have seen in the last several years the doors open, they understand it is a responsibility not only to protect and serve our country, protect and serve the environment. It goes hand in hand.
Ted Simons: As far as the National Guard is concerned and national military efforts relatively similar? Over all, same direction, same folk us?
Joe Knott: Same policy. Policy for the Army is the same as for Arizona national guard, Army reserve and actually to highlight Arizona the Army in the last several months issue out a commitment to spend $7 billion on renewable energy systems to power Army national guard bases. Arizona just two weeks ago the announcement was made by the Army for Huachuca south of Tucson they are looking for solar energy to building a plant to power the base. What the Army will give them we're your customer. 30 years we will be your customer. So it brings together the industry and academia to develop these technologies.
Ted Simons: Talk about academia here and partner -- academia and partnering with businesses, with universities. Talk about those efforts.
Joe Knott: Two key parts with the Army sustainability policy issued a couple of years ago which flies for the Army guard. Education of our soldiers and civilians because we have to empower them with the knowledge otherwise how can they conserve energy? How can they do the right thing and create less waste unless they a taught these things. The second is partnerships. The Army's job is to win war. Soldiers to be the best in the world. We're not experts in the environment. That's where the partnerships come in. Industry. Renewable industry. Energy efficiency experts. Arizona State University academia perfect example in Tempe where first time ever in the history of Army in the last two years Arizona State University through global institute of sustainability has partnered with the Army National Guard and Department of Army headquarters at the Pentagon to create courses at the graduate level specifically made for leaders in the Army. Tailored to a military manager.
Ted Simons: You have been there 30-odd years. You know the background. Was there a point when you saw this really kick into high gear or was it a gradual increase in interest?
Joe Knott: That's a great question. It's a giant organization so things do move slow, but my personal opinion from my experience being stationed at the Pentagon it hit home if you were a tree hugger or not, when you can equate a soldier's life to having less fuel go into the base camp because we're powered with solar energy. Organization free, a nonprofit, is existing to help us educate folks on we have to get off the fossil fuels. It cost lives not only billions of dollars in climate change but when it takes a soldier's life or injures that's priceless. There is no second best. That is where the rubber meets the road. That's where the Army has changed when leaders can see by being sustainable more soldiers came back.
Ted Simons: Especially whether there's a viable alternative.
Joe Knott: Exactly. So many. Solar, wind, that partnership with industry to develop the next generation of renewable alternative energy.
Ted Simons: Great information. Thank you so much for joining us.
Joe Knott: Thanks for having me.

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