FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Mahatma Ghandi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." The Mobilization and Deployment Brigade embodies this idea here on Fort Bragg. This unit, a Reserve unit which processes Reserve component Soldiers who mobilize and demobilize through the post, is the first unit on the installation to be certified as a green unit under the Green Directorate program. Through their efforts to simultaneously reduce their impact on the environment and support Fort Bragg's mission, the Mobilization and Deployment Brigade represents the "Go Green" adage in more ways than one.

An innovative initiative of Fort Bragg's Sustainability Team, the Green Directorate program encourages organizations on post to practice sustainable daily operations with efforts to reduce waste, promote recycling, improve energy efficiency, conserve water and educate staff about the benefits of environmentally conscious business practices.

According to sustainable materials planner Melinda Harrington, the Green Directorate program directly supports Garrison Strategic Goal 1: A sustainable community. "Fort Bragg is a large installation and our roles extend beyond our daily jobs," Harrington explained. "We don't receive utility bills for our work spaces and thus we are unaware of the impact of our daily practices. The Green Directorate program remedies this by highlighting changes that we can implement which will lead to financial savings and minimize our 'boot print,'" she said.

Certified Green Directorates enjoy a number of benefits including an official certificate to display in the directorate offices, public recognition, access to an expert program support team and inclusion among an interactive network of peers dedicated to preserving the environment.

For the Mobilization and Deployment Brigade, though, participation in the program was not only advantageous - it was also imperative. Unit leader Lt. Col. Richard Hale was the driving force behind the MDB's participation in the Green Directorate program. Hale was accustomed to environmental responsibility efforts in his civilian career, so including sustainability practices in his military service seemed logical, he said.

According to 1st Sgt. Russell Zirkle, the unit's sustainability officer, the staff at MDB implemented a variety of measures to achieve their certification as a Green Directorate. In order to reduce office waste, the MDB first installed recycling bins at multiple locations to collect items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

The unit was also commended for its steps to conserve energy. In fact, 214 light bulbs were removed from their headquarters in an effort to eliminate excess lighting. Now, directed task lighting and natural lighting are common. Additionally, the unit is using motion sensors, timers, programmable thermostats and energy saver features on office machines to monitor energy consumption.

Other ventures included responsible chemical storage and use, landscape management, water conservation and efforts to encourage ride sharing and car pooling.

Since the inception of the program, staff participation in the Green Directorate Program at MDB has steadily increased - from the use of a few recycling bins in their offices to the implementation of sustainable practices in their homes.

"The response from our staff was positive," Zirkle said.

"This was a phenomenal team effort," Harrington commented. Sustainability is essentially about decision making. This team has demonstrated how making a sound, sustainable decision supports Fort Bragg's mission. This is exactly what the Green Directorate program was designed to achieve."

For Zirkle, the accomplishment extends even beyond the scope of the MDB and Fort Bragg.
"For me, achieving Green Directorate certification is an opportunity to prove that environmental stewardship and uniformed military service can be complementary," Zirkle said.

In the future, Zirkle hopes that sustainability will become a major campaign throughout the military for installations as well as individual Soldiers.

"Any unit can achieve this," said Zirkle, encouraging other units on Fort Bragg to join the Green Directorate program. To inspire participation, Zirkle suggests translating the seemingly abstract idea of sustainability into practical terms by relating the real-world impact of their efforts and identifying how participants are changing the world around them one step at a time. His best advice, however, is quite simple: start small.

The MDB started with only the recycling program. Now, they are the first of what could be many elite organizations to emerge as leaders in the quest to achieve a sustainable Army community and to maintain a beautiful, functional post for today's Soldiers and for future generations.

To learn more about the Green Directorate program, contact sustainable materials planner Melinda Harrington at melinda.harrington@us.army.mil or call 396-2019.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16