FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As leaves turn to shades of brown red and gold, Fort Bragg remembers its green roots with the annual Green Living and Design Tour. While past tours took attendees on a community-wide trek of healthy homes and businesses, this year's event turns the spotlight on Fort Bragg's sustainable design successes.

On Saturday, two, 15-passenger vans will start a new tour every hour, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, at the North Post PX. The event is open to the general public and is free of charge.

"We probably have the majority of the LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) projects in the region," said Melinda Harrington, sustainable materials planner for Fort Bragg's Environmental Division. "Most of our construction is also to showcase that green building is really just about 'smart building' with the systems in place," she added.

In addition to an up-close-and-personal look at new Soldier barracks and the Greenbelt corridor (a forested area of training land), tour guides harness the details of our newest solar initiatives ( a soon-to-be-constructed transpire solar collector on the south wall of Funk Physical Fitness Center and solar heating for Tolson pool). Structures like the fifth stop on the tour, known as an environmental classroom, use vegetation retention ponds to treat storm water and release it back into aquifers and streams.

Nearby recycled plastic benches and native landscape (longleaf pine, wax myrtle, river birch) add to the low-impact design and the beauty of the Department of Public Works compound. Visitors will have an opportunity to ask questions about local plant species, which require minimal care and attention while maximizing environmental benefits like oxygen production and species' habitat. To reduce overall landscaping costs and labor, the installation designates 'no mow' zones where trees and wildflowers have replaced grass plots.

"A lot of green building happens behind the walls," said Harrington. Projects like the 'container building,' a multi-story structure composed entirely of steel shipping containers, combine the practicality of recycled materials with the aesthetic appeal of standard exterior construction.
Established in 1998, the Fort Bragg recycling facility is one of the most productive sustainable programs in the Army.

The facility accepts a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, cardboard, paper, electronics, glass, batteries and even aerosol cans.

According to officials with Sustainable Fort Bragg, revenues generated from the qualified recycling program (or "Bragg about Recycling") are used to cover operating costs. Surplus funds may be used for pollution abatement, energy conservation, occupational safety or Department of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

It's the Soldiers, contractors and Families of Fort Bragg who deserve recognition funding installation projects totaling nearly $1.5 million over the last half decade.

As the tenth stop on the tour, Ryder Golf Course presents the leisurely side of Fort Bragg. Tee time is a little bit greener at Ryder thanks to habitat improvements, reduced mowing and a decrease in pesticides that minimize the environmental impacts of the game.

This commitment to quality earned it the Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary Golf Course title - a first in Army history.

"It might give people some ideas about what they can do to be sustainable as well. (Projects) like creating the bioretention areas to collect storm water or the solar panels, that might give people some inspiration to be green in their own lives," said Jonelle Thompson, community resource coordinator for the Fort Bragg environmental branch.

(Editor's note: The Green Living and Design Tour is a joint effort between Sustainable Fort Bragg, Sustainable Sandhills and the NC Sustainable Energy Association. To learn more about the Green Living and Design Tour, visit www.sustainablesandhills.org or email melinda.harrington@us.army.mil. Cameras are restricted on the installation.)

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