MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
The federal government is working to reduce its environmental impact and energy dependency. The Department of Defense is no exception to this effort.
On Jan. 23, 2014, David Asiello, DOD executive agent for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, met with Marine Corps Base Quantico’s numerous coordinators to discuss “Sustainable Procurement for Military Installations,” which are pilot programs geared toward reducing foreign oil dependency, replacing hazardous materials and conserving energy. The hope is that improving sustainability will enhance mission readiness while protecting human health and the environment.
These programs are driven by Executive Order 13514, a move by the Obama Administration to instill sustainability into government operations. According to its website, the Department of Defense is the single largest energy user in the United States, accounting for 90 percent of the federal government energy consumption. With that, the Obama Administration wants federal services to take the lead, which is why the directive requires that all services improve their environmental, energy and economic performance.
“There’s significant risk in depending on [foreign oil,] especially when it comes to delivering energy and water to the front [lines],” Asiello said.
Additionally, Asiello said becoming more sustainable also reduces risk to forces delivering fuel and overall vulnerability of the electric grid.
“The more we depend on the grid, the more vulnerable we are to [terrorist] activities or natural disasters,” he said. “If we can be more sustainable in how we use our energy we can be more effective in our mission in the future”
Military installations won’t have to pay for the pilot programs — at least initially. Asiello said the Army will fund the pilot programs for all units aboard the base, allowing them to test the products and services. If they’re found to be cost effective and sustainable, the program will help implement it.
The Army serves as the executive agent for the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment, which is a tri-service program that supports all departments in fulfilling
DOD’s environmental, energy, health, safety, and sustainability requirements .
Maj. Daryl Sabourin, audit section head at the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Branch, said environmental coordinators play a vital role in ensuring Quantico sustainability.
“All this is possible because we have environmental coordinators in each one of the units here, otherwise it becomes impossible to pass this type of information or present these large scale programs down to the user level,” Sabourin said. “They really are the lifeblood of getting information out.”
Moreover, he said the DOD-wide push mirrors Col. David W. Maxwell’s, Quantico’s base commander, sustainability plan for this installation.
The NREA is already taking steps toward a more green direction. Next month, the branch will put into service a new computer system to handle all of the base’s hazmat material.
“The new computer system will help us be more efficient at what we do,” Tye said. “If we track our hazardous material better, we’ll get better handle on what we’re ordering and in the long run it will help reduce the amount of hazardous waste on the base.”
Unlike the old system, when environmental coordinators had to either fax, email or hand deliver their hazmat inventory, the new software will allow users to log on electronically, manage their hazardous inventory, submit requests and required documents. They’ll also have handheld barcode readers to help scan inventory.
Each unit will eventually be able to register with the new computer system, but the program is starting with Marine Helicopter Squadron One and The Basic School.
At the conclusion of the meeting, environmental coordinators were urged to survey their activities and find potential areas where they need help finding alternatives.