Hear the phrase “Army Green,” and a dull olive shade of uniform comes to mind, or perhaps the Army’s Green to Gold program for service members to get a college degree.
But military bases are earning the “green” title for another reason — many are doing their part to preserve and protect the environment.
“Army bases, quite often, are the only green space left in the city environment,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp. “So, what happens as the city moves in and residential neighborhoods are developed, is we see a migration of species onto the base.”
Hammack said more than 200 endangered species live primarily on Army bases nationwide.
“We have so many endangered species that we have to figure out how we can conduct the Army mission in harmony with the other resources and species that are on our bases,” she said.
These bases’ efforts to achieve harmony do not go unnoticed.
Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards
Natural Resources Conservation – Small: Camp Johnson, Vermont Army National Guard
Cultural Resources Management: Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Environmental Quality – Non-Industrial: Fort Hood, Texas
Sustainability – Industrial: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Missouri
Natural Resources Conservation – Team: Fort Riley, Kansas
Environmental Quality – Team: Maryland’s Fort George G. Meade Installation Restoration and Military Munitions Response Program Team
The Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards represent the highest honor in environmental science and sustainability granted by the Army, according to the Army Environmental Command website.
The awards recognize “performance excellence and outstanding accomplishments that improve the environmental performance of Army mission activities,” the website states.
“One of the reasons we’ve publicized what they’re doing is that it’s a great example for other bases to follow,” Hammack said.
Although the bases strive for common goals, each of the winners has its own unique approach to sustainable practices.
“Fort Hood does a great job in balancing environmental needs with good waste management,” Hammack said.
The base has saved more than 3 million gallons of water by filtering water and using it for irrigation.
Fort Hood also recycled more than 16,000 tons of trash in 2013. The efforts generated $3 million in revenue, which went to support the recycling program, as well as soldiers and families living on the base.
“Many of our bases have great composting programs,” Hammack said. “When you compost all that food waste and some of the other landscaping waste together, you’re generating a great fertilizer that can be reused back on the base.”
The Army uses a “Net Zero” waste program. The goal is to compost and recycle as much as possible, in order to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.
“It is really a holistic program to manage energy, manage water and manage waste on our installations, so that we are in harmony with the limited resources that are available,” Hammack said.
The industrial sustainability award winner, Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri, not only recycles food waste, land waste and water, but also scrap metal.
The plant is producing lead-free bullets. To date, the plant has eliminated 1,600 tons of lead from their manufacturing processes.
“One thing these bases all have in common is, they’re balancing compliance with various legislative and regulatory requirements, with environmental protection, natural resource stewardship and innovative management against the Army and military mission,” Hammack said. “If we keep everything in the right balance, then we have success.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.