Rucker reduces consumption of natural resources
Earl Rogers loads a container of recyclable office paper into the back of his truck during his weekly rounds for the post's Qualified Recycling Program. Recycling is a key component to the post's sustainability efforts, and may be expanded to include plastics and glass in the near future.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 15, 2012) -- Fort Rucker is doing its part to reduce energy and water consumption, reduce waste and promote recycling through its ongoing sustainability efforts.

The installation is required to reduce its energy consumption by 3 percent a year, and water consumption by 2 percent a year, according to the Energy and Environmental Keys to Success in the Installation Management Campaign plan for Fort Rucker.

"We're doing pretty well on energy and we're doing great on water consumption," said Candy Vaughn, branch chief of Utilities and Energy Management for the Directorate of Public Works.

Fort Rucker has taken on many initiatives to reduce its energy and water consumption by trying to eliminate waste, said the branch chief. The installation has an ongoing effort to replace older water mains to eliminate leaks and keep up water quality.

Many of the water mains on Fort Rucker are dead-end lines, according to Vaughn. These lines can cause water to be stagnant and degrade the quality of water if the lines aren't flushed through frequently enough.

"We're creating loops in areas that didn't have them before," said Vaughn. "If you can take that end line and connect it to where there is more flow, then everything will circulate and there will be better water quality."

Through the water main replacement efforts, Vaughn said that Fort Rucker should be able to reduce its water waste and consumption by another 18 million gallons per year.

Along with the reduction in water consumption and waste, energy waste and consumption is another issue that DPW is tackling in order to work into Fort Rucker's sustainability efforts.

Tony King, resource efficiency manager for DPW, said that saving energy saves money, which can be spent on other parts of the sustainability efforts, but it starts with the people on Fort Rucker.

"You can do all the technology things right," he said. "You can go ahead and put new stuff in that's going to reduce energy in theory, but if the occupants of the facility don't cooperate … then you negate some of the effort."

In order to help people on Fort Rucker be smarter about energy and water consumption, DPW is looking to ramp up its current building energy monitor program, according to Vaughn.

"The BEM is a person that is the eyes and ears [for the DPW] in that facility," said King. "They monitor things that can help reduce energy costs like noticing a crack in a door and adding weather stripping or noticing that certain systems are not working properly."

DPW is responsible for about 6 million square feet on Fort Rucker, which it must monitor, but it can't monitor the entire installation by itself, said the efficiency manager. BEMs are there to notice anything that can be corrected and it is their duty to call DPW and let them know of the problem so that it can be dealt with, and energy and water waste can be diverted.

Another example of efforts that DPW is taking in order to reduce consumption is the recycling of existing heat exhaust into a useable resource, according to King.

"In one of the hangars, we're putting in heat recovery on the chillers," which are essentially air conditioning units, he said. "It's just throwing [the heat] into the outside air, so we're going to capture that heat and throw it back into the reheat loop so that we can dehumidify with it."

A heat pump water heater is going to be added that will capture the heat at a four-to-one ratio and will save a quarter to half the cost of firing up a gas boiler, according to the efficiency manager.

Recycling is a big way Fort Rucker can cut costs and be more environmentally friendly, and recycling is a big step toward sustainability, said Melissa Lowlavar, Environmental Management Branch chief for DPW.

The installation recycles paper and some metals in order to eliminate the amount of waste that is being sent out to landfills, she said, adding that the installation has future plans to expand the recycling program to plastic and glass.

"We have our qualified recycling program that handles the paper and the cardboard and brass," she said, "which all takes place at the recycling center at Bldg. 9332."

Solid waste diversion of 50 percent is required for the recycling program, according to Lowlavar, and the basic goal of the program on Fort Rucker is to recycle any materials to keep waste out of landfills.

"There is only so much land that we can put waste in," she said. "Being good stewards of the environment, we just don't want to do it."

The installation also has programs and guidelines to keep hazardous waste out of the landfills, according to Colleen Quinlan, hazardous waste program manager for DPW. With a contract through Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services, they deal with hazardous waste like antifreeze and paint. Some hazardous waste can potentially cause chemicals like lead and mercury to leak into ground water, she added.

There are hazardous material management plans in place for Soldiers, contractors and civilians working on post that let them know how to go about handling and disposing of hazardous waste, but there is no such plan for the households on the installation, said Lowlavar.

"It's a little trickier when dealing with hazardous waste in a household because it's just too easy to throw things away," said Quinlan. "Educations is the only way to get people in homes involved in responsible hazardous waste management."

Promoting sustainability and getting the communities involved in energy management and waste reduction is one of DPW's main focuses. Vaughn said that people on Fort Rucker should be more mindful of energy and water waste, and they should do their part to help, like turning off a light when leaving a room or reporting a leaky toilet. "Our resources won't be here forever."

"I have children … and they're going to get married and I'll have some grandchildren," said King. "I want there to be something left for them and that means being good stewards of what you've got."

Page last updated Thu March 15th, 2012 at 12:11