Two small departments within the Pentagon are actively supporting a wide array of innovative projects, with the ultimate aim of aiding developers in bringing their climate technology solutions to the market. Amidst a national push from both the White House and the private sector to discover groundbreaking climate technologies, these offices – the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Project (ESTCP) – are at the forefront of funding research in diverse areas such as solar energy and building efficiency systems.

The primary mission of SERDP and ESTCP is to bolster U.S. national security. However, as Kimberly Spangler, the executive director of both programs, points out, any additional benefits these investments bring beyond their military application represent a significant gain for the broader public.

SERDP is unique within the Department of Defense as the sole office dedicated to environmental research and development. It focuses on lab-based R&D. In contrast, ESTCP specializes in field demonstrations and validations of environmental and energy technologies. This helps bridge the gap for technology developers between innovation and market viability, a process underscored by Dorothy Robyn, a former Pentagon deputy undersecretary.

Although the combined budget of these offices, at $211 million, is a small portion of the Pentagon’s substantial $800 billion budget, their impact is far-reaching. They sponsor a variety of projects, ranging from coral reef conservation and military equipment protection against harsh conditions, to the development of advanced photovoltaic devices and vehicle modifications for reduced fuel consumption during idle periods. This broad scope of work underscores their commitment to environmental and energy innovation, with a keen eye on practical applications and future commercialization.