Post focuses on sustainability for future generations
The Fort Rucker Wings Chapel, which opened April 25, was the first building on post designed and built with LEED Silver certification.

(Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles on sustainability and environmental efforts on post.)

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 8, 2012) -- Fort Rucker is taking on the challenge to implement sustainability initiatives with the Installation Management Campaign Plan to ensure that future generations have access to resources available today.

A series of planning sessions began with garrison leadership in 2009 to develop a planning process called Integrated Strategic Sustainability Planning, according to Cynthia Ranchino, lead plans specialist for the plans, analysis and integrations office.

"The process was to help our garrison leaders look out over a period of 20-25 years in the future instead of just what's happening in a day," she said. "Over time, the IMCP was published and these executive orders and plans are what govern not just our sustainability efforts, but our day-to-day operations."

Sustainability is defined as the managing of all resources -- workforce, infrastructure, funds, information, natural resources, energy and systems -- so that they are available as needed to best support current and future requirements, according to Ranchino.

"This is how the Installation Management Command views sustainability," she said. "It's basically taking all resources and making sure that we are using them in a way that they are available to us, but not in a way that we're expending them at such a rate that the resources won't be available in the future."

The Army Sustainability Campaign Plan focuses on mission, environment and community for economic benefit, said the lead plans specialist, which falls under the IMCOM principles of sustainability:

Mission excellence -- Manage resources necessary for the Army to achieve its mission;

Community collaboration -- Active local and regional partnerships supporting mutually beneficial goals;

Environmental stewardship -- Prudent life-cycle use of resources, active environmental management and replenishable conservation;

Economic impact -- Realize cost savings, cost avoidance and expanding services through cross-functional planning and cooperative resourcing; and

Systems thinking -- Identify and exploit interrelationships within and between lines of effort and operations that optimize resource allocation and process performance.

"Anything we do should meet the mission, obviously," she said, "but we need to look and see if we are harming the environment in the process. If we are [harming the environment], then we should try to mitigate that."

A cost/benefit analysis is also done to make sure that not only the mission and environmental standards are being met, but they are being done so in a way that it is fiscally responsible, said Ranchino.

"We have some great initiatives going on, on the installation, that most people would never hear about like the changing of all the traffic lights on post from standard bulbs to LEDs," she said, which consume far less energy and is only a small change made on the installation that leads toward sustainability.

The Directorate of Public Works champions a lot of these initiatives with people that are motivated to do great things for the installation, she added.

Some of the bigger changes in the sustainability efforts come with the newer Military Construction Corporation buildings that are to be built, according to the lead plans specialist. All new MIL-CON buildings must be constructed to meet efficiency requirements certified by Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Silver or higher.

"[The Wings Chapel] was [Fort Rucker's] first LEED Silver facility," she said. "It uses less energy and less water per square foot than the older buildings."

Other aspects that go into designing a LEED Silver certified building is in the landscaping, which is designed so that there is no water runoff, said Ranchino. The parking is designed with the same certification in mind -- parking spots for smaller vehicles are closer to the building than those for larger ones to help encourage people to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"[Sustainability is being implemented] in a way that people don't notice a drastic change, but it can't be just a military effort, she said. The installation needs the support of the surrounding community and it starts with changing peoples view on consumption.

"People don't think about water as being a finite resource," said Ranchino, "but an installation that doesn't' have enough potable water can be overlooked for missions that could increase the population and well-being of that particular installation -- it's happened in the past. People don't think in those terms about water, electricity or the availability of land, and that's what we want to try and change.

"The surrounding communities need to be on board and use the same behaviors [as the installation]," she said. "Otherwise, you're eliminating a lot of potential."

The ultimate goal of the sustainability initiative is for the installation to one-day be able to reach NETZERO, she added.

"We want to make sure that [the installation] is generating as much electricity as it's consuming, repurposing as much water that is being used and that no waste is being sent to landfills," said Ranchino. The goal is to produce exactly what is being used and use the exact amount being produced.

"I'll be the first to tell you that we've got a long way to go," she said. "But it all goes back to not being about us only today -- we have to look to the future."

Page last updated Wed March 7th, 2012 at 00:00