As the United States consolidates its military footprint, closing U.S. bases in and north of Seoul, the $10 billion-plus expansion of Camp Humphreys presents some unique environmental challenges. Due to its innovation in meeting those challenges, the environmental quality team at the U.S. Army Garrison -- Humphreys is a winner in the Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards Program for FY 2015.

Transforming Camp Humphreys into the Army's major South Korea hub involves construction of more than 600 new facilities and demolition of more than 250 buildings. Each project requires the environmental staff to identify environmental issues during the planning stage, prepare preconstruction surveys, conduct environmental reviews of every construction and demolition project and ensure compliance with all Korean Environmental Governing Standards.

As a result of the transformation, the current military and civilian workforce, excluding family members, will rise from 7,300 to an estimated 28,800 personnel on an area that expanded from 1,210 acres to 3,623 acres. With this tremendous growth, the garrison relies on its fully implemented environmental management system to maintain environmental compliance.

Using a cross-functional team, the installation sets and achieves goals for energy and fuel consumption, fuel spills, waste generation, water consumption and hazardous material use. The Environmental Division's approach focuses on the importance of being environmentally involved throughout the installation to ensure resources, recyclables, and other wastes are properly collected, segregated, recycled and or disposed of in accordance with applicable policies, regulations and laws.

The garrison exceeded its energy reduction target by installing solar domestic-water systems, converting heating fuel to lower cost natural gas, implementing the Army metering program to identify and monitor buildings with high electrical utility use, installing a system to use daylight instead of electrical lighting in vehicle and aircraft maintenance facilities, and replacing metal halide perimeter lights with more energy efficient lights installation-wide. It also met the fuel consumption target by acquiring electric plug-in vehicles and promoting their use.

Fuel spills were reduced by 28 percent last year through formal classroom bilingual training on handling of hazardous material and hazardous waste, development and implementation of a hazardous waste accumulation point standard operating procedures, hand-on unit-based training, and staff assistance visits. This resulted in fewer hazardous substance spill emergencies and saved costs for spill cleanup labor, as well as costs from special packing and handling to dispose of the waste.

The USAG Humphreys team also exceeded its target for non-hazardous solid waste generation, achieving a 62 percent diversion rate last year. In addition, they increased their diversion rate for construction and demolition waste from 59 to 65 percent, in one year, by expanding the reuse program of crushed concrete demotion debris in the construction phase.

The garrison exceeded its water conservation goals by installing low-flow shower heads, waterless urinals, sensor controlled sinks and better building management practices.

In addition to their conservation efforts, the team also worked to mitigate impacts from several construction projects on natural and cultural resources. To protect the Central Wetland, which covers a little less than 12 acres of USAG Humphreys, the environmental team developed a Central Wetland enhancement project.

The wetlands is home to aquatic bed, palustrine emergent and palustrine scrub shrub plant communities and provides habitat for heron, mallard, toad, carp and snakehead. The project increased the ecological function of the wetlands, enhanced the wetland buffer and increased plant diversity and habitat structure, all while providing an aesthetic recreational area for the Soldiers, Civilians and Families who live and work on the installation.

As soon as 11 grave sites were discovered during construction, the team coordinated with the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense to relocate the grave sites off-post. In addition, the garrison coordinated with the Cultural Properties Protection Subcommittee in conducting several surveys to identify potential buried cultural property areas.

The environmental team also provides educational activities throughout the year to educate stakeholders on the importance of environmental protection, stewardship and management. The garrison holds a month-long Earth Day celebration including a 5K family fun-run, Earth Day essay contest, Earth-friendly tip of the day announced on American Forces Network radio, and an Earth Day fair for its more than 1,000 community members. Each year the Environmental Division conducts a tree-planting project with the Cub and Daisy scouts, allowing each of them to plant a tree to honor Earth Day.

Despite the various environmental challenges generated by the Army's largest repositioning transformation project, USAG Humphreys environmental team led the Army in enhancing environmental quality while enabling readiness and supporting the Army mission.

The team will represent the Army in the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards competition held later this year.