Sustainability strategies come into focus
July 31, 2009
<b><i>To sustain is a mindset that sees interrelationships in all we do, says program manager in part one of two-part series</i></b>
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - When John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main," in the 17th century, he was acknowledging the relationship of man to the world.
In 2007, then Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee, and then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, presented a similar point of view by recognizing the need to "... become systems thinkers if we are to benefit from the interrelationships of the triple bottom line of sustainability: mission, environment and community."
For the Army, sustainability is multidimensional and comprises much more than technical projects and engineering solutions. To be fully effective, the Army enterprise must fully engage the local community to maintain an adequate civilian workforce.
Sustainability is a foundation strategy and a paradigm that focuses our thinking to address both present and future needs while strengthening community partnerships that improve our ability to organize, equip, train and deploy our Soldiers.
Army sustainability acknowledges the importance of the relationship of the Army to the world in which we live, the communities in which we reside, and the people with whom we work and play.
Key to optimizing the benefits of these relationships is viewing them as part of the larger system and using a sustainability "lens" to help to identify strategic partnerships and actions needed to sustain the mission.
In this time of diminishing resources and rising costs, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. has identified four strategic imperatives for the Army: sustain, prepare, reset and transform. These strategies recognize the need to "operationalize" a sustainability awareness and ethic into all we do.
Many of the challenges posed by these goals can be met by new and more efficient technologies or improved business practices that help sustain our facilities and enhance our stewardship of the environment. For example, specific legislation, executive orders and other mandated design standards, define specific engineering requirements and sustainability objectives.
A great deal of attention is focused on technological sustainability solutions such as wind or solar power in the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. However, sustainability is not just about technological or environmental solutions.
Behavior changes instilled into daily habits also play a critical role in sustainability. From turning off a light or a computer, to recycling, to driving less, to riding a bike - all contribute to optimizing the triple bottom line at a personal or local level.
<i>(Editor's Note: David Zuckerman is the sustainability program manager for the Housing Branch of Installation Management Command-Pacific. In part two of his series, in the Aug. 7 edition of the Hawaii Army Weekly, he will elaborate on community and workforce involvement in sustainable initiatives.</i>