WASHINGTON (April 7, 2014) -- Planning, promoting, and tracking its sustainability efforts spell success for the team for the Minnesota Army National Guard environmental program's improvements and initiatives. Their efforts also spell "winner" in the FY 2013 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards, Environmental Quality Team category.
The MNARNG Environmental Quality Team is responsible for compliance, conservation, and sustainability management for all MNARNG facilities and training areas. The team prioritizes environmental management to support Soldier readiness, and ensures environmental quality and sustainability is demonstrated in everything they do, from pollution control to environmental management system implementation.
"One of the overarching directives of the campaign plan for the Minnesota National Guard calls for developing a sustainable infrastructure," said Col. Larry Herke, construction and facilities management officer. "This directive provided an excellent foundation for completing a Sustainability Master Plan for which I must ensure implementation of as the Construction Facilities Management Officer."
In addition to the conventional management plans the team maintains with annual reviews and regular updates, the Environmental Quality, or EQ, team finalized a Joint Sustainability Plan, State Sustainability Plan, phase 2 of their Operational Range Assessment, and a Wellhead Protection Plan during the rating period. The MNARNG Sustainability Working Group also was launched in 2012.
This working group was created to promote and track sustainability measures. The group is working on several initiatives including a wind energy study at Camp Ripley and an audit to see what solid waste can be redirected or eliminated from the waste stream.
The EQ Team oversees the MNARNG's Qualified Recycling Program which brought in approximately $1,000,000 in revenues. Those funds support the recycling program, pollution prevention and abatement projects, MWR activities and energy-efficient updates like LED lighting replacement for fluorescent fixtures.
As part of their renewable energy initiatives, MNARNG received a $1.9 million state grant to install a biomass heating system at Camp Ripley. This system will cover seven buildings and replace approximately 14,000 million cubic feet of natural gas usage.
To ensure the project success the team partnered with University of Minnesota at Morris, which has a working biomass plant, and the Region 5 Community Development organization, which is responsible for regional sustainable development.
When the new field maintenance shop at Arden Hills Training Site was in the planning stage, the team was involved in incorporating a 40kW solar photovoltaic system on the roof and solar thermal heating for the water in the plans. At the Pine City Armory, the team helped with plans to reduce energy consumption by using windows with automatic lighting and darkening features.
There are numerous activities occurring at all MNARNG's facilities and training areas across the state including the Camp Ripley Training Center, Arden Hills Army Training Site, eight field maintenance shops, 63 armories, and two Army Aviation Support Facilities. Through training and assistance, the EQ team has maintained environmental compliance on all fronts.
The EQ Team works closely with regulators to keep permits for stormwater, underground storage tanks, hazardous wastes and NPDES current. No findings of noncompliance resulted from the 18 regulatory inspections MNARNG underwent during the rating period.
"Without exception, MNARNG's EQ Team ensures compliance with all local, state, and federal environmental regulations," said Marty Skoglund, environmental program manager. "The Team understands that the consequences of not doing so would negatively impact our ability to train Soldiers, not to mention the disappointment it would cause in the eyes of our leadership and our communities."
The team's success in maintaining compliance and furthering EMS goals is credited in part to the development of training resources. The EQ team scripted and launched new courses on energy efficiency, global harmonizing systems and Camp Ripley environmental management, through the MNARNG Learning Management System.
The LMS, which is available to all Soldiers and employees through Sharepoint, tracks user certification and allows the team to notify staff when training is needed. Instead of conventional classes, the team is able to efficiently train thousands with just a few online class sessions.
Every initiative the EQ team undertakes is in support of the MNARNG mission and a sustainable Army. Planning is key, but it is not enough to guarantee success.
Compliance monitoring and management ensures that training sites and facilities will not be impeded by regulatory issues. Training programs help Soldiers and staff meet EQ benchmarks and perform their jobs more safely and efficiently. Recycling, waste stream reduction, and energy conservation all help to stretch the MNARNG's resources further and make the organization more self-reliant.