DOD Should Give More Consideration to Passive Solar Systems for New Military Family Housing

EMD-82-74: Published: May 17, 1982. Publicly Released: May 17, 1982.

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Since 1979, the Department of Defense (DOD) has been required to consider using solar energy systems in all new units constructed under its military family housing construction program. GAO conducted a review to determine the extent to which DOD was considering the use of such systems for new military family housing.

For fiscal years 1981 and 1982, GAO found that DOD had planned to use very few active or passive solar energy systems in its military family housing. The reasons for not using more of these systems varied. DOD has established a policy, issued guidance, and the military services are routinely making detailed evaluations of the potential for using various configurations of active solar systems. DOD generally found such systems uneconomical and a GAO review showed that the DOD evaluations appeared to be reasonable. With respect to passive systems, DOD had not established a policy or provided detailed guidance to the military services. Consequently, passive solar systems were not evaluated to the same extent as active systems, and the consideration that each service gave to including passive solar systems in newly constructed military housing units differed. The Department of Energy (DOE) has funded numerous studies and demonstrations showing that passive solar features are currently economical for residential structures in various regions of the country. However, since the economics of some of these features have not been fully demonstrated using DOD life-cycle cost criteria, DOD has remained unconvinced that they would be economical for military family projects. DOE can provide guidance to help the military services determine which passive solar features are likely to be economical for military family housing.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish a policy requiring the military services to consider, evaluate, and install passive solar systems when economical. DOD should also develop, with assistance from DOE, guidance for the services to implement this policy. The guidance should identify which passive solar features should be considered, and under what circumstances or conditions, such as location and type of conventional fuel displaced, these features are likely to be economical.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should analyze information from DOE ongoing and completed passive solar projects to determine the economics of passive solar features using the life-cycle costing criteria DOD must use in its military family housing program. The Secretary of Energy should also provide the results of these analyses to DOD and assist in developing appropriate guidance for using passive solar energy in military family housing. The results should be in sufficient detail to determine the conditions and extent to which the different passive solar features are likely to be economical.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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