The American military, known for its ‘Army green’ uniforms, is extending its green tradition by overhauling its bases to be more environmentally friendly.


Under new Defense Department planning guidelines, military installations worldwide will be redesigned  as “compact developments,” Sean Reilly reports in the Federal Times. Generally, service members and their families need a car to get around the large, spread-out bases, but under the new regulations shops, restaurants, and houses will be positioned closer together, creating an urban-style setting where residents can more easily walk or take public transit to their destinations.


The goal of the overhaul is to conserve energy, but it’s also to start moving the nation’s power source off the grid system, which is getting “aged and vulnerable,” Army officials said in a statement. Moving to more locally sourced power is good for both the environment and national security. Doing this, though, will be a large-scale feat. Reilly writes:

The stakes are large. The Defense Department has more than 300,000 buildings encompassing 2.2 billion square feet. That physical footprint is about three times the size of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

If the Army can pull off converting its bases into more city-like communities, everyone will reap the benefits. There will be less traffic congestion, fewer automobile accidents, and healthier, more active people on base, Reilly says.

 
The sustainability initiative is already under way on two Texas Army bases—Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. Energy-saving efforts, such as cars powered by solar panels, are proving popular among the service members, which bodes well for how other bases will take to the new approaches. Through these types of efforts, green may soon become more than just a uniform color for the military.