The article below is excerpted from SERDP and ESTCP’s Partners in Environmental Technology Information Bulletin, Spring 2010 Issue. 

Report Presents Framework for Sustainability Metrics and Reporting

The sustainable management of U.S. military bases is a matter of increasing priority. Effective management of all the relevant aspects of long-term stability, reliability, and resilience of operations requires a comprehensive framework as well as appropriate management metrics and reporting systems to highlight emerging issues and systemic problems. The primacy of the mission to the U.S. military, together with the complexity of base operations and their relationships with the surrounding environment and community, means that simple adaptation of existing sustainability metrics and management frameworks would not produce an adequate set of tools.

To fill this gap, SERDP working in collaboration with sustainability consultants, contractors, and military personnel developed a Mission Sustainability Framework (MSF) and set of sustainability metrics that can be adapted to virtually any military installation across the United States. Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in southern California was selected as the prototype and reference location for this effort.

Highly representative of U.S. military bases in general, NBVC consists of 73 commands in two separate locations, Point Mugu and Port Hueneme, housed in 1,500 buildings. NBVC fulfills three main functions—training, mobilization, and testing. NBVC operates an airfield and a seaport and has base housing and deploying units. This diversity of functions ensured that the MSF and metrics would be robust across different types of military bases.

To develop a framework that was relevant most importantly to the mission of NBVC, the effort included extensive interactions with key installation personnel, providing input that was critical in developing the MSF. The resulting MSF consists of six metric categories, with a set of sustainability metrics relevant to each category. The categories are mission, management, neighbors and stakeholders, operations and maintenance, environment, and quality of life.

The culmination of this project is a framework on which to build a comprehensive sustainability metrics system for U.S. military installations and enable them to respond to the requirements of Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. The Final Report presents the key results, including (1) the MSF for categorizing and presenting metrics, (2) the issues of management interest, (3) examples of sustainability metrics in each MSF category, and (4) a conceptual design for a sustainability reporting system, which can be further developed to work in harmony with other metric reporting systems now in use or development.