Story and photo by Susan C. Galentine
Fort Carson Sustainability and Environmental Public Relations
The Mountain Post’s buying power has a substantial impact on the types of goods and services companies provide locally. Increasingly, installation activities are changing procurement habits and leveraging dollars to spur the demand for sustainable products.
Buying sustainable products has a variety of meanings. “Green” products are often thought of as products containing recycled content or being less harmful to people and the environment, as in the case of cleaning products, paints, and adhesives. Purchasing sustainably however, also encompasses goods and services produced locally instead of from out of state or other countries. Purchasing locally drastically reduces transportation costs, emissions from transport and benefits local economies by keeping money within the community.
Fort Carson’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has set aggressive goals to become more sustainable and is actively scrutinizing its procurement and business practices.
The directorate completed a two-year project recently to reduce costs of disposable restroom paper product purchases and is stepping up purchases of recycled products for all DFMWR facilities.
“The savings were a result of ensuring everyone was buying the most cost-effective product, not what they liked or thought was a good deal,” said Kim Van Treadway, chief of supplies and services for DFMWR.
Cheyenne Shadows Golf Club recently wrapped up three major sustainable initiatives:
Two new storm shelters built for golfers include design features requiring minimal energy and water use.
Golf course upgrades were accomplished using asphalt from the old paths. The new paths improve mileage for the carts and reduce soil erosion issues. Van Treadway estimates 2,590 tons of asphalt were recycled in the cart-path project.
Cheyenne Shadows Golf Course’s 1970’s era non-potable water irrigation system also received a sustainable facelift. A new weather station monitors wind speed, solar radiation and air temperature in order to calculate the water used by the plants and evaporation on a daily basis, enabling staff to water accordingly, said Van Treadway. The DFMWR estimates a savings of 20 percent of gray water every year through the new system. Reducing nonpotable water irrigation by one-fifth will save the golf course up to 18,000 gallons of water and $14,500 in costs annually, said Vince Guthrie, Directorate of Public Works utilities program manager.
Staff from the Colorado Inn, Fort Carson’s guest lodging facility, switched to green cleaning products to reduce their impact on visitors and the environment. The lodging facility also offers guests the option to adjust their linen changing schedule to significantly cut down water use. Van Treadway estimates the initiative reduces washing linens by 10 percent.
“It was a huge success and saves the installation thousands of dollars every year on cleaning the linen, the treatment of the waste water and the wear and tear on the linens themselves,” said Van Treadway.
McDonald Kemp, director of DFMWR, promotes his directorate’s aggressive support of Fort Carson efforts to become more sustainable and the installation’s contribution to greater Army success in this area.
“DFMWR is committed to green procurement because it is the right thing to do, and we have significant opportunities to make a positive impact,” he said. “I would offer (that) the key to green procurement success is to initially search out and address ‘low hanging fruit’ and high impact requisitions. In other words, look for green procurement opportunities that are easy to execute and/or that will have high positive environmental impact. For many it is a daunting task, but, once you start focusing on this approach, you will find it becomes much easier, and then you are cruising.”
Sustainable government purchasing opportunities are becoming more abundant through avenues such as the on-post Envision Express supply store and Government Services Administration catalogs, both of which offer an increasing number of environmentally-preferable items.
To learn more about sustainable products and purchasing, the following government websites provide a good starting point: http://www.gsa.gov or http://www.epa.gov/oppt/epp/.