Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas
The McNamara Headquarters Complex is on a steady course to reduce its carbon footprint and increase environmental awareness thanks to the efforts in recent years of the Environmental Management System and several environmental management initiatives.
The EMS is designed to manage and reduce the organization’s environmental impact.
“Presidential executive orders mandated that [federal facilities] take actions to reduce our impact on the environment, so we put together an EMS,” Yves Reme, the HQC Site Operations Division chief, said. “It allows us to see if we are in compliance with or improving our compliance with the mandate.”
Reme explained that prior attempts to reduce waste and energy consumption were largely separate initiatives and often lacked central management. With the creation of the EMS, environmental specialists help devise formulas to more accurately gauge success.
“Now we know where we stand environmentally because we have an active and functional EMS,” Reme said. “Now we can measure our successes.”
Reme said he attributes these successes to new facility management techniques. Many solutions are simple, like installing new low-flow faucets in the restrooms, shutting down computers after certain hours to save electricity, and eliminating excess paper waste in printers.
Other solutions are larger. Facilities management personnel have a contract in place to replace the current building roof with more environmental friendly material, which will divert sunrays and reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the building in the summertime.
“The material is not only better, but the color and texture will reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the sun,” Reme said.
Results of the environmental management programs to date have been impressive, Reme said. Under EMS, the water usage has been reduced by 35 percent, fuel usage by 20 percent, and solid waste reduced by 22 percent.
“Even though the population of this building is increasing, our energy consumption is decreasing,” Reme said. “It’s the little projects that let us reduce our carbon footprint.”
Gail Carter, an environmental specialist contractor in Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support, noted it isn’t just an executive order that is driving the environmental initiatives. The budget reductions of the sequestration highlighted EMS’s ability to help save money.
“Because of the budget crisis, people really began to help cut costs and become more conscious of waste,” Carter said. “You have to make sure that our natural resources remain sustainable for future generations. It’s part of sustainable acquisitions.”
Reme also noted that the solution isn’t just about changing hardware in facilities, but attitudes.
“Even though the policy exists, it takes time for people to change,” Reme said. “We are really trying to have a greater push for enforcing our environmental policies.”
EMS implementation has led to a series of programs designed to encourage employee compliance, such as recycling programs, which involve everything from placing collective bins throughout the complex to paper drives.
Other outreach programs include informational seminars in which workers from DLA field activities discuss about successful measures they have employed and a tree sapling giveaway on Earth Day.
“Construction in metropolitan areas is taking down such a large amount of foliage,” Carter said. “This is a way to encourage people to plant more trees.”“It’s the combination of little things that build up and really can make an impact,” she said.