10/26/2010 06:08

Ashkenazi will also announce a NIS one billion program called “The IDF protects the environment.”

The IDF will inaugurate Bahad 1, its officers’ training base near Mitzpe Ramon, as a “green” base on Tuesday in the presence of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other top brass.

Ashkenazi will also announce a NIS one billion program called “The IDF protects the environment.”

He approved the plan last week that will focus on cleaning up existing contamination while preventing future pollution through education and raising awareness.

Bahad 1 has been the training ground for officers since 1968 and was chosen to become the flagship green base to encourage IDF officers to absorb environmental values and bring them back to their units.

The base features a 400- panel solar farm for heating hot water for the entire facility, which is expected to save 90,000 liters of oil a year. It also features motion detectors to turn off the lights after a set period without movement as well as water-conserving faucets. All of the energy-guzzling fluorescent lights have been replaced by T5 energy efficient ones, which should cut electricity use by 30 percent.

IDF bases have been notorious for the lack of proper sewage infrastructure and oil leaks that soak into the ground. Earlier this year, the army and the Environmental Protection Ministry worked out a schedule for providing sewerage solutions to the last 150 IDF bases that lacked them.

Bahad 1 has been hooked up to Yeroham’s waste treatment plant to properly dispose of sewage, Col. Ofra Rahav told The Jerusalem Post on Monday ahead of the inauguration. She is the commander of the IDF Construction Center.

Rahav added that the army was considering a long-term plan to use natural gas instead of oil. She pointed out that the solar farm would reduce the quantity of oil needed to heat water.

While new technologies have been installed to conserve energy and water at Bahad 1, the concept of “sustainable building” has actually been in place since the IDF started building its own bases after the withdrawal from Sinai [in the early 1980s], Rahav said.

“Ever since the IDF began constructing bases from scratch after the withdrawal from Sinai, part of the planning process has taken into account planning for the climate of the base, its insulation, and how to use its internal spaces. New bases require planning from scratch, which enables us to build long-lasting standardized buildings suitable to the climate,” she told the Post.

Rahav said the IDF was more likely to test and implement off-the-shelf environmental solutions rather than “reinvent the wheel.”

Despite the fact that many have attributed Israel’s hi-tech expertise to its citizens’ mandatory army service and the cutting edge technology the IDF uses, Rahav said it was not really feasible to turn the army into a training ground for environmental specialists and technologies, since the IDF focuses on garnering expertise in the areas that are most relevant to its mission – war and intelligence.

However, there were areas in which the military’s requirements coincided with environmentally friendly technologies, she added.

“Take prefab temporary housing” for example, “it’s well insulated, sturdy and it avoids a lot of the environmental issues that come with construction in the field since it’s 95% built in the factory,” Rahav said.

The IDF has partnered with industry to develop the prefab housing.