Fort Lewis emerges as force for sustainability
January 22, 2010
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Along with supporting national defense, Fort Lewis is committed to conserving natural resources and securing the integrity of its natural and cultural heritage. The triple bottom-line components of mission, community and environment have been part of the fabric of Fort Lewis for many years.
In 2002, the installation emerged as a leading force for sustainability with its Installation Sustainability Program. The plan guides the sustainability effort with eight long-term goals divided into six subject areas: air quality, products and materials management, water resources, sustainable training lands, energy and sustainable community. A multidisciplinary team oversees implementation of each area of the ISP.
The Air Quality Team works to reduce emissions from daily operations of buildings and non-tactical vehicles. Actions include the support for the anti-idling policy, encouragement of alternate transportation such as public transit and van pooling, and promotion of alternate fuels such as B20 biodiesel, E-85 ethanol, compressed natural gas and, soon, hydrogen.
The Products and Materials Management Team focuses on achieving zero net waste by recycling, buying green products and conserving resources. The team has been involved in the Earthworks composting facility, which takes compostable materials from facilities such as the commissary, child development centers and dining facilities and uses the soil on projects for the installation.
The team has implemented a barracks recycling pilot project for the compliance with the Fort Lewis recycling policy, and a deployment-waste diversion program that achieved a 75 percent diversion rate with one unit, recycling unwanted personal items or donating them to a local charity.
A Green Procurement Team under the PMMT helps government purchasers comply with the Army's green procurement policy.
The Water Resources Team oversees regulatory water-quality issues and pretreatment for the wastewater treatment plant that discharges into the Puget Sound. The team also provides water-conservation education and outreach to the Fort Lewis community.
Members of the Sustainable Training Land Team focus on Fort Lewis training areas. The team restores historic prairies with native species to ensure their use for current and future mission needs. The Integrated Training Area Management program propagates native plant plugs in a greenhouse on the installation. Projects also include habitat restoration, cultural and historical site preservation, and species recovery for federally listed and protected species such as the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, the Mazama pocket gopher, the Bald Eagle and the Western gray squirrel.
The Energy Team stewards energy conservation and implements alternate energy projects. This team educates the community on a variety of issues from "phantom loads" to the energy wasted by unused chargers, electronics and appliances left plugged in. The team has also partnered with Bonneville Power Administration to execute a Utility Energy Savings Contract, which will help Fort Lewis implement energy- and money-saving projects.
The Sustainable Community Team designs neighborhoods, transit and operations to achieve a more livable community. The team looks to condense the community areas, using less land and natural resources to lighten demand on infrastructure and encourage families to become active members of their communities. This breaks with the usual planning model that often creates urban sprawl, disconnected neighborhoods, land mismanagement and increased pollution.
The Environmental Management System, ISO 14001, is the management tool that provides a framework for improving practices and informing decisions. Many installations across the Army have modeled their sustainability programs after the one at Fort Lewis, which readily shares its sustainability successes through its outreach programs, participation in technical conferences, willingness to serve as a research and development demonstration site for technology innovations and leadership in developing and adopting sustainable practices.
For information on how you can get involved, go to https://sustainablefortlewis.army.mil/ or contact Miriam Easley, the sustainability outreach coordinator in the Fort Lewis Public Works-Environmental Division at 966-1734.
A sustainable Army simultaneously meets current as well as future mission requirements worldwide, safeguards human health, improves quality of life and enhances the natural environment.
Fort Lewis sustainability goals
1. Reduce installation stationary source and nontactical motor vehicle air emissions 85 percent by 2025.
2. Reduce total energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015.
3. Sustain all activities on post using renewable energy sources by 2025.
4. Create sustainable neighborhoods for a livable Fort Lewis community that enhances the Puget Sound region.
5. Cycle all material use to achieve zero net waste by 2025.
6. Maintain the ability of Fort Lewis to meet current and future military missions without compromising the integrity of natural and cultural resources, both on the installation and in the region.
7. Recover all listed and candidate endangered federal species in South Puget Sound region.
8. Treat all wastewaters to Class A reclaim standards by 2025 to conserve water resources and improve Puget Sound water quality.
Miriam Easley works with Fort Lewis Directorate of Public Works-Environmental Division. This article appeared in Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.