Military experts focus on environment, warfighter
August 31, 2012
The National Defense Center for Energy and Environment, in cooperation with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, hosted its annual program review Aug. 28 on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
The program, "Technology Transition -- Supporting DoD Readiness, Sustainability and the Warfighter," brought together military experts from across the country who are fielding new technologies for water and energy conservation, waste management and other programs that help the Department of Defense save money while preserving natural resources.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, and Hershell Wolfe, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Environmental Safety and Occupational Health, provided opening remarks.
Presenters included James L. Reed of the Defense Logistics Agency, who spoke on "Hazardous Material Minimization and Green Products," Paul Yaroschak of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Engineered Resilient Systems, who talked about "Integrating Sustainability into DoD Acquisition Programs," and Michael Gilbert, who briefed conference attendees on "Storm Water and TDML [Total Daily Maximum Loads] initiatives at Fort Detrick."
The annual program review is a demonstration and validation platform for sustainability initiatives, said Pete Stemniski, director of Environmental Technology for OASA (ESOH). He said the forum allows emerging technologies to be put on display to see how viable they are, similar to the process under which weapon systems are evaluated.
An example of this is the composting project that has been set up on JBM-HH, Stemniski said. Conference attendees were able to visit the composting site as part of this year's program review.
Located in a JBM-HH Directorate of Public Works equipment yard, the JBM-HH composting station utilizes collection bins that speed up the breakdown of organic material, in this case, wood chips, horse manure from the caisson stables and food refuse from the dining facility and officers club -- while siphoning off foul-smelling gases that result from the process into a separate containment vessel.
According to Amy Fagan, JBM-HH's Directorate of Environmental Management sustainability program manager, the project not only reduces the installation's waste stream, but after the material has steeped for approximately three weeks, it becomes a fertilizer that will be used on base flowerbeds and trees or to facilitate the growth of grass on fields that need reseeding.
Stemniski said DEM originally approached his office about setting up a composting site but that funding wasn't immediately available. Instead he was able to arrange for NDCEE to set up and pay for a six-month pilot program.
"If it works, we'll buy it and use it full-time," said Fagan, who said equipment and materials would probably cost approximately $90,000.
"I thought the presentations were very good," said conference attendee Bill Lucas, energy manager for JBM-HH's Directorate of Public Works. He said his favorite part of the program was a talk by Jim Evanoff of the National Park Service on sustainability initiatives undertaken at Yellowstone National Park. He described how NPS was recycling cooking oil from park restaurants and using it as fuel in its fleet of vehicles.
Michael Khalamayzer, acting director of JBM-HH's DEM, said he was impressed with a presentation that looked at an Army depot's efforts to reduce toxic waste in its ammo supply. He said the speaker described how shells of rounds were examined for microscopic cracks which allowed bits of mercury to slough off. This was solved, he said, by switching to another product which used ammonia as a replacement for the mercury.
Fagan said one of the things that impressed her most at the conference was how the Defense Logistics Agency is developing a database of green products that can be shipped to deployed units.
Fagan said the annual review offered a networking opportunity for sustainability specialists. She said she met colleagues she had only previously communicated with over the telephone or through email.