Garrison officials strive to be good stewards
Samantha Rogers, pollution prevention specialist for the Environmental Division and an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education intern, helps second graders from Patrick Henry Village Elementary in Heidelberg, Germany, plant flowers in the school's garden.

HEIDELBERG, Germany - It can be a complicated, unpredictable and, at times, a thankless job, but even with all of the challenges it poses, it's one members of the U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg's Environmental Division say they happily tackle each and every day.

"It's not a common job. There are different challenges every day. You go into the unexpected. You may have a set agenda, but that agenda can change within moments," said Daniel Welch, the division's chief. "It only takes one phone call."

The division is responsible for managing and monitoring anything and everything related to the environment and its natural resources.

A large part of its daily efforts goes toward educating Soldiers, families and civilians living and working in the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg communities about conserving energy and protecting the environment.

"Natural resources are not unlimited," Welch said. "It's not like at the coffee shop where you have your bottomless coffee cup ... people think you turn on the water, and it will run forever, and that's not true." Army installations require a large amount of energy and natural resources to manage daily operations. Without access to it, the "Army would stop moving," Welch added.

Whether it's the electricity powering the computers inside of an office building, the fuel being used to run vehicles, or the water filling washing machines in military housing - it all involves the use of energy, and it all must be conserved.

The environmental staff dispenses tons of tips on a daily basis to help community members fight waste and inefficiency in the garrison, while stressing the fact that conservation efforts don't have to be complicated.

Simple steps such as shutting off computers and printers at the end of the day, turning off vehicles instead of idling them, and ensuring you wash a full load when using your washing machine can do a lot.

But it's a battle Marty Hanson, pollution prevention program contractor, says is further complicated by the constant influx of rotating personnel and families. "It's a hard thing to do because of the turnover," he said. "We have to constantly bang away at everyone in this garrison and keep reminding them of what the right thing to do is."

The division staff attributes the response not to the community's indifference but to something else.

"We are successful in a small range or in a small spectrum. We are not where we would like to be or must be, and I think it's not because the customers are negligent or purposely violating laws. I think it's more of the awareness," Welch said.

To keep conservation efforts at the forefront, the environmental division staff conducts a 30-minute briefing to newly in-processing Soldiers and civilians and offers environmental management system training for units, schools and offices.

The training discusses energy saving programs, recycling and overall ways to be better stewards over the environment and its natural resources.

Samantha Rogers is a pollution prevention specialist for the Environmental Division and an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education intern who helps provide environmental training for local schools and agencies. "We look at the conservation happening in the community, and we can see positive changes," Rogers said. "I encounter a lot of people in the community who find out I work for the Environmental Division, and they will ask questions about new environmental news or the proper way to dispose of certain items." "Whether or not our children are struggling with the same environmental problems in the next decades is up to us and to them. Education, which we can provide, is the first step. The next is up to you," she added.

In June Garrison Commander Col. Bill Butcher signed an energy conservation policy designed to help the garrison reduce greenhouse emissions and energy consumption, use renewable energy and sustainable building practices, and reduce its petroleum use.

The policy also calls for an energy manager and building coordinators to help ensure policy guidelines are met.

In addition to the policy, Thomas Cahn, environmental protection specialist, says solar panels have been installed throughout the garrison in places like Campbell Barracks, Mark Twain Village, Taylor Barracks and Germersheim and that 27 percent of the garrison's electrical energy is made of renewable energy.

"We only have one environment, and our resources are limited, especially fossil fuels. We must take good care of what we have right now and in the future," Cahn said.

Despite the daily challenges, long hours and unpredictable days, members of the Environmental Division say in the end the future payoff is far greater. 'Our reward is when we're out doing our campaigns and training and we look in the kids' eyes and share with them our knowledge. Then they take it and carry it on. For us that's a positive reward and a way to sow seeds towards the next generation."

October is Energy Conservation Month, and energy efficiency and security is the sixth line of effort outlined in the Installation Management Campaign Plan.

To view a copy of the IMCOM Campaign Plan, visit www.imcom.army.mil/hq and to view a copy of the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Energy Conservation Policy, visit www.bw.eur.army.mil and click on "policies."

Page last updated Thu August 12th, 2010 at 08:37