The biggest update in years to the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program validation process has been finalized after months of work from members of the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, and the energy managers they partner with throughout the Army.
The Energy and Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, or ERCIP, gives stakeholders from anywhere in the Army a direct path to secure funding for military construction designed to increase energy efficiency, employ renewable energy sources, reduce energy costs, and increase energy resilience and security.
Before a stakeholder – such as an installation in need of such a project to fulfill the Army’s energy resilience requirements – submits a project proposal to the Office of the Secretary of Defense to compete for funding, it is the job of Huntsville Center’s ERCIP validation team to lend technical support and planning guidance by validating the project.
With the Army’s increased push for energy resilience in the last few years, the Huntsville ERCIP validation team saw an opportunity not only to incorporate changes to support this push but to strengthen ERCIP overall.
As part of their effort to roll out these updates, Huntsville Center validation team members traveled to Idaho National Laboratory in June to workshop these changes with ERCIP partners from throughout the Army. These partners include energy managers representing the Army’s landholding commands, which are Installation Management Command, Army Materiel Command, the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Also represented at the June workshop were the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, or OACSIM, and the Department of Energy at Idaho National Laboratory.
The new proposal submission procedure requires each stakeholder to provide a more comprehensive outline for their scope of work and to provide answers to questions such as what is the impact if the project is not approved, what are the mission-critical assets the project will support, and what alternatives were reviewed to meet the project requirement?
The new process also more clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities of the participants: Huntsville Center, the requesting installation, the applicable land-holding command, the executing Corps of Engineers district, and OACSIM.
Erika Cosper, ERCIP project manager with Huntsville Center’s Energy Branch, said the biggest change to the overall process is that the Corps of Engineers districts and divisions that are engaged in each project locally will be much more involved.
For each project during the validation phase, Cosper said, each district will be directly involved in the planning phase, including leading planning charrettes and producing the current working estimate. Huntsville Center also plans to include a program manager and cost engineer from each district.
“We’re trying to do more upfront work with the geographic district,” Cosper said.
This means Huntsville Center will cede some accountability of the validation process to the districts themselves. Though this might make more work for the districts, the intent is to ensure all pre-project planning and cost analysis match the stakeholders’ needs.
One big reason for this is, though Huntsville Center works closely with districts on each project, Cosper said the center does not always have the same consistent visibility on a project the way a local district would.
“We do visit them and do our best to lead the planning, but since the district is already there and it’s their installation, they’re more aware of what happens on that installation and how things work there – so it really helps the validation process from the beginning.”
One example Cosper gave is the knowledge of how weather and climate may impact a project.
“That’s a huge part of every project – are there issues with the weather? What are you trying to install and will that hold up against the climate it’s in?” Cosper said. “There’s a lot of different local aspects to look at when trying to validate a project, so I think the district being there and having the knowledge of an installation or area will help.”
Cosper said the aspect of the new ERCIP process she is most excited about is helping the districts start leading the planning – especially the charrettes, which are multiple-day workshops that bring together interdisciplinary teams to develop a concrete plan.
“The biggest thing for me, which will also be a challenge, will be helping districts to start leading those,” said Cosper, “but that’s something I’ll be able to assist them with and help them learn.”
To learn more about ERCIP, visit www.hnc.usace.army.mil/Media/Fact-Sheets/Fact-Sheet-Article-View/Article/490653/energy-division-energy-resilience-conservation-investment-program-validation.