Fort Lee Earns 'Extraordinary' Award
September 20, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 20, 2011) -- Fort Lee is officially the first Army installation in the state to earn "E4" status from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
During a 10 a.m. ceremony Tuesday at the Logistics Memorial adjacent to the Sustainment Center of Excellence headquarters building, post officials accepted a certificate and banner that heralds the fort's acceptance into the Extraordinary Environmental Excellence Enterprise. Only three other federal facilities and 30 activities in the entire state have achieved E4 certification since the program was established in 2005.
"You're in a very elite group," noted Richard Weeks Jr., chief deputy of the VDEQ, during his congratulatory remarks at the ceremony. "An achievement like this is only possible when you have the top-down commitment of community leaders, which is indicated here today by the presence of (Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, Commanding General of the Combined Arms Support Command, and Col. Rodney D. Edge, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee Commander), and the individual day-to-day efforts of everyone who lives and works here.
"That's what makes an environmental management system work," Weeks continued. "Watching out for the environment becomes a part of everybody's job, and that's how you get the innovation and the support to get things done."
According to the VDEQ website, those vying for E4 certification must "demonstrate a desire to be a leader in the mission to protect and conserve Virginia's natural resources." The voluntary program encourages superior performance through the development and implementation of environmental management systems and pollution prevention efforts that far exceed legal and regulatory requirements.
Fort Lee has met that challenge by promoting recycling and pollution prevention activities, protecting land and water resources, mitigating the environmental impact of federal projects and encouraging voluntary measures to safeguard natural resources.
"I think our close working relationship with the VDEQ and our neighboring communities is also exemplary," said Allen Mills, an environmental protection specialist with the Fort Lee Office of Environmental Management. "We have established a Sustainability Conference where the communities can meet to discuss issues, challenges and possible solutions. It further promotes that team approach to environmental management, and we're proud of the relationships it has created."
During his remarks at the ceremony, the garrison commander gave a nod to current environmental initiatives that further demonstrate the installation's commitment to stewardship. They include the reusable bag campaign -- an effort to eliminate the use of plastic bags by fiscal 2013 and save post facilities an estimated $100,000 a year.
Fort Lee is also pursuing six gold and 10 silver certifications through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, Col. Edge noted. In all, 56 building and four renovation projects associated with Base Realignment and Closure were designed and constructed to meet LEED silver standards. The installation is introducing geothermal heating and cooling systems in two of its current barracks projects as well. On average, those facilities should use 25-30 percent less energy that comparable structures with conventional HVACs.
"These are all examples of what the Army is doing for us in the arena of environmental protection," Weeks said. "It's really a win-win (because) we're protecting our natural resources and also finding better and more sustainable ways of getting things done. It makes us less dependent on single sources of energy and all of those things that we need to address as a society. I think Fort Lee's efforts really epitomize that, and it's an honor to be a part of this accomplishment."
Citing the advantages of E4 certification, Mills said there will be monetary benefits in the form of discounts for permits and stronger working relationships as community partners consider Fort Lee's achievement and recognize its commitment to effective programs that protect local resources and the environment.
"Our work doesn't stop here," said Col. Edge as he closed the ceremony. "We continue forward because its vital and environmental stewardship equals financial savings. In this cost culture, the more money we can save, the more money we can put toward other things. As we leave here today, I would like to challenge each one of you to do your part to allow our community to reduce, recycle and reuse as many things as we can so that we can invest (those savings) not only in what our future war-fighters need as they train and learn here, but also our own families and futures."