With past and future deployments overseas in mind, Pittard has also set up a prototype outpost, similar to where soldiers live in remote parts of Afghanistan, where the link between energy use and combat is explored.
It has a sophisticated system of interconnected diesel generators, or microgrid, that uses half the fuel in a week that a conventional outpost would, reducing fuel convoys that could attract enemy attacks. It purifies shower and sink water. Each aspect of energy use is analyzed, down to how often doors to the outside are opened.
"For a forward operating base anywhere in the world, you want it to be as self-sustaining as possible," Pittard said. "The fewer logistical convoys you have, the less vulnerable they are."
The Pentagon provides little money for sustainability efforts, so Ft. Bliss has had to figure out the financing of its many efforts.
Pittard hit the ground running, aware that he had only a couple of years to achieve results before his command changed. "Bureaucratic inertia is probably the biggest obstacle," he said. "People slow-roll you because they know you'll leave and they can wait you out."
The base recently announced construction of a 20-megawatt solar array, the military's largest renewable energy project. Already there are solar panels everywhere: on almost every roof in a townhouse development; by the new aquatics center where they heat the pool; by headquarters, barracks, dining halls; in parking lots where they also provide shade against the blazing heat.
Ft. Bliss is exploring other energy sources too, such as geothermal to power a new hospital and a waste-to-energy facility that would use El Paso's waste.
The base wants to use treated wastewater, or gray water, on parade grounds and golf courses. An aggressive recycling campaign has sent so much material to the recycling plant that the base has gotten money back to keep sports programs that other bases have cut because of budget reductions.
The veterans cemetery stripped hard-to-maintain grass and landscaped with decomposed granite, which reduced water use by half and made it look like a red-earthed Zen garden.
The new Ft. Bliss commander, Gen. Sean MacFarland, has pledged to continue the sustainability efforts. But once Pittard retires, it remains unclear whether anyone would remain in the Army's upper ranks who has his zeal for the environment.
In a recent speech, Pittard said of his son's study of zoology: "He absolutely loves this planet, and so do I. … It is our responsibility as temporary guests on the planet to sustain this beautiful place called Earth."