AF earns top DOD environmental awards

  • Published
  • By Shannon Carabajal
  • Air Force Civil Engineering Center Public Affairs
Two Air Force units have been recognized as the best in the Department of Defense at being "green."

The 673rd Air Base Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and the 78th Civil Engineer Group, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., were among the winners of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards announced today.

Each year since 1962, the Department of Defense honors individuals, teams and installations for environmental excellence that support quality of life and increase efficiencies without compromising mission success.

"These awards reinforce our commitment to protecting our natural resources, serving as good stewards of the environment and forming strong partnerships with the communities in which we serve," said Kathleen Ferguson, the acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. "I'm very proud of our Air Force team and all the Airmen who earned these awards. This recognition is well deserved."

The 673rd ABW earned the Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation Award that recognizes efforts to prevent or eliminate pollution at the source, including practices that increase efficiency and sustainability in the use of raw materials, energy, water or other resources. Serving as the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson host unit, the wing worked to improve environmental performance by integrating sound environmental practices in daily decisions and activities.

As a result of that focus, joint base officials worked with local municipalities and utility providers to convert landfill gas into usable energy for the base in a project that is projected to generate more than 56,000 megawatt hours, or 26.2 percent, of the base's electrical load. The plant reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to save $73.6 million over the project lifecycle.

The wing is also working to reduce energy consumption and long-term maintenance costs. Several projects are ongoing toward this initiative, including an advanced, meter-reading Energy Management Control System. The meters provide real-time energy use data for more than 125 high-energy-use facilities. The system resulted in a cost savings of $350,000 per year as users learn how to save energy and reduce overall impact.

The 78th CEG earned the Environmental Quality, Industrial Installation Award for its efforts to ensure mission accomplishment and protection of human health in the areas of environmental planning, waste management and safe drinking water. Robins AFB is the largest industrial facility in Georgia with a $4.5 billion annual economic impact across the state. Its team implemented a wide-ranging and proactive installation environmental program centered on air quality, hazardous materials and waste management, pollution prevention, green procurement, natural resources, restoration and water quality.

During fiscal 2012, the base recycled more than 2,000 tons of recyclables, diverting 53 percent of solid waste from the landfill while generating more than $960,000 in total revenue. The base groundwater treatment plant removed more than 34,900 pounds of contaminants and is the first industrial wastewater treatment facility in Georgia to receive the platinum award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, lauded all award recipients in a memo announcing the winners.

"I applaud all of the nominees for their exceptional efforts in protecting the environment and human health, as well as in preserving the resources at our installations to support training and operations," he said. "Their efforts exemplify the Department of Defense's environmental leadership, both in the United States and overseas."