Marine Corps Base Quantico -- “The environmental policy statement is the keystone of the MCBQ Environmental Management System (EMS),” said Christa Nye, EMS coordinator with the Base Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs (NREA) branch. “It exists to build public trust.”
EMS is a multifaceted approach that facilitates the base’s compliance with environmental, natural and cultural resources, laws and regulations. It’s also a method to achieve sustainability goals, protect training lands, reduce risk and protect human health.
MCBQ commanders must produce an environmental policy statement outlining their commitment to the EMS within 90 days of taking command. Most federal agencies have an environmental policy statement, Nye said.
Base Commander Col. Joseph Murray’s policy outlines his dedication to improving Quantico’s environment so that it remains a premier training site, reducing utility costs through water and energy conservation, remediating contamination from past disposal practices and minimizing current threats, and educating all Marines, sailors, civilians and contractors aboard base about their responsibility to protect the environment.
“Environmental responsibility becomes the responsibility of everyone aboard MCBQ, not just the NREA,” Nye said. “Everyone should consider what impact they have on MCBQ resources.”
The policy is posted on the MCBQ website and in buildings across base so that employees have access to it. Nye said that each command also has an appointed environmental coordinator, who shares the policy with the command and liaises between the NREA and the command.
Besides the obvious benefits of a healthier environment for everyone, successful implementation of the environmental policy will also lead to financial benefits. The base has a goal of reducing energy usage by 30 percent by the year 2020 and reducing water usage by two percent annually. This will lead to significant cost savings.
“We are currently connecting Smart Meters to every building,” said Jeromy Range, energy manager with the Public Works branch. “This will give us the ability to see live how every building is performing and can lead to an estimated savings of 2 percent a year, or $240,000 annually.”
Range said the base is also in the initial stages of entering an energy savings performance contract (ESPC), which will make it easier and more affordable to complete energy-saving improvements to its buildings.
Another program that will lead to cost saving is the brand-new hazardous materials re-use center, located at building 3185. Nye said it is a place to collect partially-used cans of hazardous materials like spray paint or latex paint, so that units with a need for these materials won’t need to purchase them new.
“By reducing the amount of hazardous materials brought onto the installation, we not only save money in purchase and disposal costs, but reduce the risk of spills, which may have associated fines or other financial costs,” Nye said.
She added that a base-wide recycling program is in its infancy, but will soon make recycling of everything from paper to scrap metal available to everyone on the installation.
Range said the base will also save money by developing an “energy ethos,” or an understanding of how everyone can use energy more efficiently. Each unit has an appointed energy manager, who conducts a monthly checklist of how the unit is using lighting, electronics, heating/cooling, and water.
“It’s about changing the way folks think,” Range said.
“The things you do at home to save money and energy are the same things you should be doing at work,” Nye said.
That means turning off the lights when leaving a room, making use of available daylight instead of overhead lighting, printing double-sided (which saves 30 percent of the paper cost), turning off or unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, knowing how to safely handle hazardous materials to avoid spills and putting on a jacket or sweater instead of plugging in a space heater.
“We need to learn how to be comfortable at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter,” Range said.
“Simple steps can lead to great impacts,” Nye said.