New director to head base environmental management
January 18, 2013
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall welcomed a new lead environmental specialist Dec. 3 when Richard P. LaFreniere took over as director of the Directorate of Environmental Management (DEM).
"When you hear the word 'environmental,' the typical person might think of saving the rain forest," he said. "In a military setting, the environmental group is tasked with ensuring that the Army mission is in compliance with applicable regulations. Our first priority is the success of the mission."
LaFreniere earned his bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech in 1999 and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins in 2012. He and his wife, Claudia, have one daughter, Annabel.
"I started working for a consulting firm, doing landfill monitoring and design," he said of his post-collegiate career. "Then I became an on-site consultant for the Army Materiel Command in Alexandria."
As the Army regionalized, his on-site consulting job moved to support the Army Chief of Staff Installation Management BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] Office in Crystal City.
"After a few years at the ACSIM BRAC office, I was hired as a civilian in 2005," LaFreniere continued. In 2006, he took a position with Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, D.C., where he worked for six years before making the move to JBM-HH. LaFreniere and his six member staff "oversee every possible environmental need you can think of," he said. "We work on all areas of environmental compliance at JBM-HH.
This includes areas like air, water, storage tanks, cultural resources, NEPA, hazardous waste, toxic substances, cleanup, recycling and sustainability."
"DEM ensures that the installation is in compliance with the provisions of the installation's compliance permits for air, storm water and hazardous waste accumulation areas," LaFreniere said. "We have an active restoration site, perform installation-wide compliance inspections, and provide the environmental review of projects for our command group, supported commands and tenant partners," he added.
"Our main goal is to make sure the commander is in compliance with all applicable regulations," he said. LaFreniere pointed out that the installation has several sustainability programs that help to eliminate waste and reduce costs. A recently acquired composter is being used to process horse manure from the caisson stables into a usable top soil for base application.
"That horse manure was just being sent off to a landfill," he said. "Now we're taking it and reusing it. We lower the burdens on our landfills, convert and reuse a prior waste, and reduce costs in disposal and purchased topsoil. That is sustainability."
"Rain gardens are also being installed around the installation in an effort to better manage storm water," LaFreniere said.
"JBM-HH does not experience the environmental challenges that come with building rockets, demilitarizing weapons, or supporting large scale training exercises," he continued. "The main way our folks can affect the environment is through the installation's storm water system."
"Among the challenges that JBM-HH and other military installations in the National Capital Region will face in the years ahead are emerging regulations from the Chesapeake Bay Act requiring more stringent storm water management," said LaFreniere.
"Emerging storm water regulations will affect the cost of construction, because it can require the use of more expensive types of storm water management techniques," LaFreniere predicted.
Mr. LaFreniere stressed that the DEM is here to support the missions of JBM-HH.
"We want to make sure the important missions on this installation are successful, because they are the ones working directly to support our Soldiers and their Families. Please give us a call or stop by our building. We are ready to help."
The new director also singled out his staff with praise.
"I am so happy to be working here with such a positive staff that understands the impact they have on the Army's mission," he said. "They're go-getters. They're excited about coming to work. We have a great team, a well-tenured team."