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PHOTO CAPTION:  Tucker Boyle, a third-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, shows off his science fair project, which aimed to conserve energy in his home in Weiden, Germany.

June 11, 2013
By Molly Hayden
U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs

WEIDEN, Germany -- It's been nearly three years since U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr instituted the Net Zero program with a goal of consuming only as much energy or water as the garrison is able to produce, as well as eliminating the need for landfills.

And as the garrison continues to achieve greater self-reliance, one spunky 9-year-old is following suit.

Tucker Boyle has always been interested in science; it's one of his favorite subjects. A third-grader at Grafenwoehr Elementary School, he is no stranger to science fairs, starting long ago in the first grade with a project on the musical concords of Louis Armstrong.

This year, however, was different.

"I wanted to do something more creative," said Boyle. "But I wanted it to make a difference."

So Boyle concentrated his efforts on saving energy. For a week he monitored his family's energy and water intake in their home in Weiden and then set up ground rules for conservation.

"Our goal was to cut our intake by 50 percent the following week," said Boyle.

After implementing a three-minute pare on daily showers, Boyle set up shop outside the bathroom door with a stopwatch, alarming his family members when their time was nearing.

He ran through the house each morning before school turning off lights and unplugging appliances, and chastised his older brother for leaving his game system on. And with such austerity in place, the dial on the space heaters never dared to inch past the number two.

"We needed to work together to save more," explained Boyle.

After the week was over, Boyle failed to meet his hypotheses. However, the Boyle family did manage to cut their intake by 30 percent.

"I think 50 percent may have been too ambitious," he admitted.

Regardless, Boyle did achieve another goal -- to change the habits of those around him. And while the science fair has come on gone, his stewardship remains.

Boyle continues to strive to live with environmental compassion and encourages others to do the same.

"Say that you just moved here you start to spend a lot of energy - you think you can spend as much as you want because you're not paying for it," said Boyle. "If you do that, you're wasting energy and the military's money and we can't do really good stuff if you waste their money."

Boyle admitted living "green" isn't always easy, but the rewards far outweigh the efforts.

"It's good for us and it's good for the environment," he said.

Boyle said he learned a lot during this experiment, which he captured daily with notes his journal; a journal he promptly recycled as the project concluded.