Thursday, January 19, 2012

Going Green and Fake Environmentalists

January-February 2012 issue of Loglines, Defense Logistics Agency magazine, has an important focus: Going Green.

I picked up several issues mentioned in the articles appeared in that issue. My focus is to show the fine line between energy efficiency and energy conservation. Parts in bold are my remarks.
“Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, recently became the first installation to order solar trash compactors. These smart trash cans gradually compact garbage as they become full, then send a signal to installation support services when they’re ready to be emptied”. Yes, “You’re not wasting time and money going on a route to empty trash cans that aren’t even full”. If this is not wasting money, I don’t know what it really is.
“While some customers equate buying green with higher prices, buying green products is actually cheaper in many cases. … in instances where an item does cost more, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to buy green. You’ve got to use logic. …If the item costs twice as much more, maybe you’ve got an out. But if it only costs you 50 cents more to buy green, it doesn’t.”  I personally do not recall any green alternative that is cheaper than non-green products. This doesn’t mean that to produce them is more expensive. Maybe they are cheaper to produce in some cases. But even in those cases, they are sold more expensive so as to make more profit.
“Natural lighting, heat-radiant floors powered by wood-burning stoves, solar panels – these features and more will make Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Europe’s new logistics distribution center at Germersheim Army Depot, Germany, one of the Defense Department’s “greenest” facilities on the continent….. Wood-pellet burning stoves will provide heat for the warehouse areas. The stoves burn pellets made from sawdust and heat water that will be pumped through tubes in the warehouse floor, allowing heat to rise and warm work areas more efficiently.”
….Right now, if you go into our warehouses in the wintertime, the cold is coming from the floors through your feet into your body….The heat is coming from above, but it’s rising. We’re creating a much better work environment for our employees, because the heat is on the ground, which keeps their feet warm. It’s coming from below and heating their body as it rises in a much more efficient manner than blowers could do.” Sounds cool! But what is the occupancy rate of the warehouse. Would that be really impossible to carry out the task if there were no heating at all?
“Team members at DLA Installation Support at Fort Belvoir, Va., are replacing toilets and faucets throughout the agency’s headquarters with low-flow water fixtures….All toilets and faucets are being replaced. The toilets’ flow is going from 3.5 gallons per flush to 1.28 gallons per flush, and the faucets’ flow is going from 2.2 gallons per minute to .5 gallon per minute.” Bravo! Do they show the same sensitivity for electric hand dryers?
“Last year, a South American country used the Defense Logistics Agency’s Foreign Military Sales Program to purchase an old, rusted-out fire truck and turn it into something useable….The 1947 fire truck was just a big piece of rust and never looked like it would drive again, said Linda Kimberlin, DLA Logistics Operations logistics management specialist. The next picture they show me, it’s beautiful: It’s painted beautiful red, with new ladders, wheels and tires on it. She said it looked spectacular, and now that country has a fully operational fire truck thanks to FMS.” Good example. The question is why the DOD doesn’t do the same, because it is rich or because it doesn’t care?
“on Christmas Day thanks to the efforts of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support workers more than 270 dining facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq received their food deliveries for the special Christmas holiday fare. Deliveries to Iraq and Afghanistan included 49,200 pounds of ham, 119,600 pounds of turkey, 12,300 pounds of stuffing, 97,375 pounds of beef, 42,860 pounds of sweet potatoes, 24,000 pounds of shrimp, 34,240 pies and 19,800 pounds of cranberry sauce, along with 7,350 gallons of egg nog, and other holiday treats.” They surely deserve it. This is not the point. BUT as a big energy efficient green fun, the DOD should also tell how and from where those food were delivered. And of course, how much money is spent for the delivery, i.e., transport cost.
“DLA Installation Support in Richmond, Va., is minimizing the drain on energy dollars from these temperature fluctuations by installing ground source heat pumps. Though the initial installation will cost twice as much money, the energy savings will [pay back] the additional cost in less than 10 years with fewer parts to wear out. the life expectancy of the ground-source heat pumps’ mechanical parts is 25 years. Traditional air-source heat pumps are expected to last 10 or 15 years.” Clever! The mistake in this logic is that you are stuck with a technology that will probably be absolute 25 years later or much more efficient ones will become available before their lifetime.
True that “When it comes to alternative, environmentally friendly fuels, the Defense Logistics Agency has a history of being on the cutting edge.” But the DOD goes too far. It should continue to research, develop, and innovate but to create an industrial base should not be its job.  
A recent article on toward workable energy solutions more or less says the same thing. When spending money on energy efficient solutions or “green” energy the DOD should think twice and ask itself the following question: Is it really necessary?
Today it is not any more that easy to distinguish fake environmentalists from true environmentalists. For many, green means the color of the greenback. Just look at the supermarkets in France. They don’t give out anymore free plastic bags to put the things you purchased. You have to pay for it. First, because, those plastic bags they sell are supposedly ‘green’. Second, by doing so the supermarkets supposedly help the environment. But the irony is that when you come home, you throw away a lot of plastics and paper used for labelling and packaging of the products you purchased.
Today in nearly every hotel room you see signs like “please don’t change your bed sheets every day”, “please re-use the towels”, “please use less water”, “please switch off air conditioning if the room is not occupied”, “please turn off the lights when leaving the room”  etc. Outside the room you most probably witness the most inefficient and wasteful use of resources in the hotel. This is fake environmentalism. My advice to hotel managers of such hotels is to put only one sign with “please, help us make more profit” on it.
The lesson for the DOD is that the Department must put energy conservation to the front. First, use less energy. Then, use it more efficiently. And apply this order everywhere. This is not same as using more efficient devices that helps you use less energy. This is the fine line the DOD doesn’t get.

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At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

It is similar when we also talk about herbal and organic it could be very expensive than the other non herbal and not organic. Is it only shows maintaining green environment and healthy food intake could cost you a lot?. tsktsk..

At 12:27 AM, Blogger sohbet karbuz said...

Necessary but not sufficient comparison. If herbal and organic industry is created with tax payers money and people are forced to buy them then I am against both of them. This is what is happening with biofuels, through subsidies and mandates.


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