Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

The Nation’s Environmental Engineer

April 21st, 2010

It was April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans joined then Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson to mark the first Earth Day. And now, 40 years later, we’re still marking the occasion. For those of us who are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it’s one more day in our journey toward ensuring that our actions are sustainable and that we are the very best stewards we can be of this country, of this planet.

The challenges we face are enormous – climate change, renewable energy, green jobs, green remediation, energy reduction, just to name a few. But the opportunities for an organization like ours are equally enormous. We are the nation’s environmental engineer. No other federal agency is addressing environmental issues of the same scope and magnitude as we are, but that’s not to say that we’re doing it alone. We know that addressing the immense environmental challenges of the 21st century requires working in close collaboration and partnership with others.  We continually seek to partner with other federal and state agencies, non-governmental environmental organizations and academia to find innovative solutions to environmental issues.

Since that first Earth Day, Americans have increasingly become aware of the need to be “green.” That goes for USACE as well. We have been looking at the environmental impacts of our work for four decades, going back to the days of Lt. Gen. Frederick J. Clarke, the 43rd Chief of Engineers, who served from 1969 to 1973, and Lt. Gen. Henry J. Hatch, the 48th Chief of Engineers, who, in the early 1990’s, laid out a very eloquent vision for taking care of the environment, a vision that set the foundation for our work today. “Environmental ethics and values must be more than an overlay. They must be a bone-deep part of our way of doing business,” Lt. Gen. Hatch said in 1992. Sound familiar? It should. Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers, our 50th Chief of Engineers, said much the same when he introduced our Environmental Operating Principles in 2002, the same principles focusing on sustainability that we continue to apply to all our work today. “We have placed environmental values on an equal footing with economic and engineering concerns in support of environmentally sustainable development,” Flowers said.

The principles, every bit as valid today as they were eight years ago, can’t be an after thought, or a “nice-to-have” thought that we include at the end, they must be considered at the very beginning of each and every project we undertake. The projects we’re undertaking will have lasting impact. Our personnel at the Institute for Water Resources are working collaboratively with other federal agencies and scientists from around the world on several different projects that address climate change challenges. We’ve just hosted an international workshop on designing projects to be resilient in the face of climate variability; we’re planning a workshop on how best to use the climate information that’s being produced; we’re working with the Council on Environmental Quality as it develops a national climate change adaptation strategy; and we’re going to test some new adaptation ideas on projects this year. We’ve established a greenhouse gas reduction target for the Corps of Engineers that addresses the unique challenges posed by our Civil Works sites. The target calls for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent between now and 2020. Achieving that target will allow us to meet the requirements of Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environment, Energy and Economic Performance, which is President Barack Obama’s plan to make the federal government more sustainable. We have two energetic sustainability leaders on board now at the headquarters and are discussing including this skill set at each of our divisions to spearhead our sustainability initiatives across the Corps. A number of our districts are following suit.

And the list goes on – the U.S. Green Building Council presented a Leadership Award to a team of Corps employees for their work in transitioning the Army from the Sustainable Project Rating Tool to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for all military construction projects; our Formerly Used Defense Sites team in Alaska District won the Secretary of the Army Environmental Restoration Team award for its work at Tanaga Island; and we just signed a new memorandum of understanding with The Conservation Fund to promote enhanced conservation and balanced management of our nation’s water resources. All of this shows that although Earth Day has been around for 40 years, the challenges, and opportunities, continue. We will continue to be on the cutting edge of the Army when it comes to taking care of the environment and promoting the sustainability ethic, and not just on Earth Day.


Environment/Sustainability, Uncategorized ,

Corps Celebrates Earth Day

April 22nd, 2009
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Today is Earth Day, and we began celebrating this important initiative last weekend by taking part in the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall. The fifth annual Expo, hosted by EPA, showcased innovative sustainable designs and projects created by student teams from colleges around the country. USACE had two booths, staffed by our hard-working volunteers, that featured our Environmental Community of Practice and our lakes and recreation areas.

USACE senior leaders tour the National Sustainable Design Expo

USACE senior leaders tour the National Sustainable Design Expo

While the event was a great opportunity to attract and encourage graduating college students to consider joining our team, the best part was seeing the great desire these students have to make the world more sustainable.

Sustainable energy is a crucial mission that we are proud to play a key role in accomplishing. The Army and Department of Defense are heavily involved in reducing energy consumption and finding renewable and alternative forms of energy, and your Corps of Engineers is a key player in this effort.

Base Realignment and Closure and our historically large, military construction mission provide a golden opportunity. For this fiscal year, which began in October, the Army budgeted for and began building 14 exciting, renewable-energy projects. Two projects worth noting are a geothermal heating and cooling project at Fort Sill that will save nearly 2,500 barrels of oil per year, and solar walls and rehabilitation shops at Fort Knox, which will save 2,400 barrels of oil per year. These projects will have a lasting impact to the economic and environmental health of this Nation. I love it!

We are working hard to meet Army sustainability goals, called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and our energy contractors have already invested more than $418 million in 70 energy related infrastructure projects at 30 Army installations over the past few years. We project a total contractor investment of about $194 million, of which $58 million is for renewable energy-related projects this fiscal year.

The Corps of Engineers is working hard to build this nation “energy strong” now and for the future.

Corps Projects, Environment/Sustainability, Infrastructure , , , ,

Earth Day

April 22nd, 2008
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The calendar says that today, April 22, marks the 38th celebration of Earth Day!

Most people don’t think of us this way, but the Corps is actually one of the Nation’s largest environmental agencies.  Taking care of and enhancing the environment is one of our major missions – a part of everything we do.  The same can be said for the sustainability ethic.  

Potential future engineers sport their new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers backpacks on the Capital Mall, while spending Earth Day at the National Sustainable Design Expo

Potential future engineers sport their new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers backpacks on the Capital Mall, while spending Earth Day at the National Sustainable Design Expo

The Army’s Earth Day theme is “Sustaining the Environment for a Secure Future.” That theme recognizes that sustainability is a national security imperative, a strategic framework, a combat multiplier and a driver for innovation.

It is not another “program of the month” only to be discussed during April or on Earth Day.  It’s much more than just an “environmental thing.”

It’s clear that sustainbility and security are connected — sustainability is all about ensuring that our Soldiers today have the capabilities needed to conduct their mission tomorrow. And the Corps’ missions support sustainability — we sustain our water resources, sustain our communities, sustain our Nation’s economic resources and sustain our national security.

We must continue to seek out opportunities to incorporate sustainability in everything we do and share our best practices throughout the Corps and the Army — not just on Earth Day, but every day!

Environment/Sustainability, Miscellaneous "neat stuff" , , ,