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Spray Foam Could Aid U.S. Troops
General Steven M. Anderson weighs in on energy efficiency

AFGHANISTAN / IRAQ - January 21, 2011 -- "Energy efficiency equals combat effectiveness." That's the message that retired brigadier general Steven M. Anderson is trying to spread.

According to Anderson, spray foam could help American servicemen and servicewomen deployed abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he's pushing to implement it across the battlefield. Anderson, with over 30 years of experience at the Department of Defense, retired from the service in 2009.

He recently penned an op-ed piece for the New York Times, detailing the ways in which energy efficiency initiatives can actually help save the lives of troops and civilians alike.

The United States military uses an astronomical amount of fuel every day - globally, about 300,000 barrels daily, about 70 percent of which goes to operations overseas, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. In Afghanistan, a huge portion of that fuel must be transported by tanker through the winding Khyber Pass, a mountainous route where dangers range from rockslides to improvised explosive devices.

As Anderson writes, about 1,000 Americans have died on fuel-related missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The less fuel the military uses, the less time it will have to spend on these dangerous logistical operations - and so the armed services have been hard at work trying to boost their independence from fossil fuels. Solar panels have been deployed both at domestic bases and in the field.

Anderson's solution calls for the adoption of more-efficient structures in the field - specifically, covering the buildings deployed in the scorching heat and bitter cold of Iraq and Afghanistan with spray foam insulation.

"The solution: a Defense Department policy requiring all structures in the combat zone be energy-efficient," writes Anderson. "Upgrading the efficiency at our bases and outposts would not require any new technology. Watch almost any home renovation show and you’ll see spray foam being used to cut energy use significantly. Cured spray foam is nontoxic, fire-resistant and waterproof."

As the military’s senior logistician in Iraq for 15 months, Anderson is well-equipped to understand the financial and human cost of inefficiency. More efficient buildings use less energy, which means fewer trips to get fuel. He says that most fuel is used for "power generation in order to provide electricity for air conditioning and heat."

Under Anderson's guidance, the military spent about $95 million using spray foam insulation to improve buildings in Iraq, which saved about $1 billion annually and took 11,000 vehicles - each of them a vulnerable target - off of the dangerous roads. Anderson says the annual bill for heating and cooling those buildings comes to about $24 billion.

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