By Rita Hess, USAEC ContractorMarch 6, 2018
The Field Maintenance Shop (FMS) #1 in Asheville is a critical component of the North Carolina military mission. It supports seven locations in six counties and maintains more than 900 pieces of equipment that are integral to North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) Soldier training.
FMS #1 experiences compliance and sustainability challenges due to its geographical location. The shop sits adjacent to the French Broad River, and personnel must remain vigilant to prevent spills or contamination of groundwater. They also must adhere to federal guidelines and local compliance regulations, and must pass annual inspections by Buncombe County to ensure no discharges are occurring that would contaminate water supplies due to storm water run-off. Because it is within a city residential district, FMS #1 must also control noise pollution that is inherent to maintenance operations.
Through a proactive philosophy of environmental protection, FMS #1 earned a 2017 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Sustainability. Additionally, the shop exceeded NCNG objectives for reductions in water and increases in recyclables over the last two years.
MS #1 has consistently met or exceeded current and anticipated regulatory mandates and Army-established goals since it opened in 2008. FMS #1 has consistently set an environmental standard for other facilities to emulate and has been recognized with numerous Army National Guard environmental awards in FY 2009, 2010 and 2011.
"Despite changing regulations, manning shortages, and fiscal challenges, FMS #1 exceeded environmental expectations, continuing vital support of the NCNG training and readiness mission," said 1SG Todd Lingerfelt / FMS 1 Supervisor. "This shop remains an environmental leader based on its dedication to sustainability, pollution prevention and environmental training."
FMS #1 is staffed by nine people; three of them oversee day-to-day compliance and quality issues. They coordinate with supported NCNG units for equipment rehabilitation, hazardous and non-regulated material management and disposal, and training. They also serve as dedicated liaisons to the NCNG Environmental Office and command staff.
The sustainability aspects of FMS #1 begin outside the building with a landscape of native plants and grasses, which provides weed control and erosion prevention. It also helps protect native aquatic life in the nearby French Broad River. The shop includes features such as 55-gallon petroleum drums that are inside two separate containment systems in case of rupture.
Also, FMS #1 partnered with Duke Power Company to replace outdated light fixtures with cost-effective LED lights, slashing their cost of operation nearly in half. Indeed, energy-efficient features for new construction, renovation, and retrofitting throughout the state have been approved based on success at FMS #1.
Proactive adherence to hazardous material management, waste management, and spill prevention plans help the shop and its supported units maintain environmental compliance while focusing on the NCNG's military mission. FMS #1 recycles oil, rubber, plastic, metal, paper, cardboard, antifreeze, batteries, and wood pallets, diverting more than 15 tons (39,173 lbs.) of these materials from landfills annually.
Used oil and fuel filters are drained of oil for contractor recycling, and FMS #1 has recycled more than 675 gallons of coolant to date. This facility helps sustain itself by investing some recycling revenues into operational and environmental equipment; additional revenues go to the NCNG. The shop collected nearly 10,000 pounds of lead-acid batteries in FY16-17 through a vendor; personnel also use a self-contained, water-based brake cleaner machine that reduces employee exposure to harmful brake dust.
Additionally, FMS #1 saves money by significantly reducing waste stream and chemical inventory disposal costs. To do so, the environmental team ensures vehicle rehabilitation products don't pose increased environmental threats, yet still meet military specifications. The search for and use of new technologies saves time, resources, and money that are redirected back into other NCNG areas, while making the shop safer and its staff's jobs easier.
Additionally, FMS #1 fosters environmental awareness beyond its own post and into field operations across six counties. The staff communicates and coordinates with North Carolina environmental agencies, and they host visits for county emergency management officials, city fire marshals, and regional environmental coordinators. This outreach not only supports the military mission through compliance, but also upholds the NCNG's excellent reputation for environmental protection and enhancement.