To some, “sustainability” is one of several 21st century buzzwords like “green,” “stimulus” and “bailout” that symbolize a trend in society associated with a need for change. These words rest in a person’s subconscious and tend to subtly or substantially affect behavior.
However, when the President of the United States made sustainability initiatives the basis for an Executive Order (13514) in 2009, leaders across the full array of the federal spectrum gave organizations a hard look.
The Corps, who had been seeking ways to make its missions, facilities and operations sustainable for much of the past decade, fully embraced the directive and, at the district level, turned to environmental compliance coordinators.
“Sustainability means different things to different people,” said Environmental Compliance Coordinator Steve Carpenter. “The concept encompasses everything from recycling, incorporating environmentally conscious products, reducing green house gas and petroleum usage and reducing environmental impacts by using more resource efficient means of construction, operation, maintenance and demolition.”
Carpenter’s goal is to make sustainability initiatives a consideration for all Albuquerque District activities and to create a culture of environmental accountability, while sustaining or enhancing operations. He reminds that every person should lead by example and strive to improve conservation efforts.
“Meeting sustainability goals is the responsibility of every Corps’ employee and it just makes sense for us to embrace this as an organization and a nation,” Carpenter said. “For the Corps, sustainability breaks down along two lines of operation: fulfilling command obligations within our infrastructure and operations, and providing services, advice and support to enable our customers to reach their goals.”
Action 9 of the District’s Operations Plan calls for the establishment of an enriched culture of discipline and innovation to deliver resilient and sustainable infrastructure solutions. Carpenter is the action officer for this initiative, and he has set forth specific goals and metrics for fiscal year 2012 to ensure the District makes progress and places the right amount of emphasis on sustainability.
It may seem like a tall order, but Carpenter plans to develop a program that consolidates all existing sustainability efforts and a tracking system to demonstrate the District’s sustainability improvements. A SharePoint site has been created, and Carpenter plans to use it to place information about sustainability and environmentally friendly programs for employees.
“I’m confident the District can make smart, long-term investments in sustainable projects as part of being responsible stewards of taxpayer funds and the environment,” he said.
For more information on the Corps’ sustainability efforts, visit: