NEWS | April 17, 2013

Joint Base Charleston to celebrate Earth Day

By Keith Thompson, Jr. 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Conservation Program Manager

On April 22, Joint Base Charleston will join the rest of the world in celebrating the 43rd observance of Earth Day. Started in 1970, Earth Day was the idea of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson was very cognizant of environmental issues plaguing our country and started an effort in the early 1960's to increase environmental awareness. He also inspired a conservation tour for President Kennedy in 1963, but it was not until 1969, that he developed the idea for what was to become Earth Day.

Nelson took notice of the campus activism of the late 1960's and believed that if he could capture that energy and focus it toward grass-roots awareness of urgent environmental issues, he could make a difference. Hence, Earth Day was born. It is estimated that as many as 20 million Americans took part in the first Earth Day April 22, 1970.

The Air Force has adopted the theme of "Conserve Today, Secure Tomorrow," for this year's Earth Day. In the spirit of this theme, Joint Base Charleston recognizes our responsibility to preserve the environment for future generations and continue to find ways to reduce waste and pollution while still accomplishing our mission.

In the past, Joint Base Charleston has also reached out to the local community to demonstrate our commitment to the environment. For the past 17 years, the base has held an Earth Day celebration on base to instill the importance of environmental stewardship for local school children. Unfortunately, budget constraints will prevent the base from having the event this year. However, the base still sponsored an essay, poster and mural contest for local fifth graders to continue our outreach efforts. Awards will be presented to winners from each school, as well as, to overall winners.

Joint Base Charleston has also been recognized as having one of the best Environmental Management Systems in the Air Force. This EMS has been developed on the base's environmental policy which expresses our commitment to maintain compliance, reduce pollution and to continually improve our environmental stewardship. The acronym CARES summarizes the base environmental policy:

· Comply with all applicable laws, regulations and executive orders
· Achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance over and above regulatory and legislative requirements
· Reduce pollution and work in partnership with all stakeholders to promote pollution prevention
· Environmental excellence in all we do and integrate environmental information into all levels of management
· Sustain the mission by protecting our natural infrastructure to ensure adequate resource capability for the warfighter through the minimization of encroachment and the protection of human health and the environment

A conscious effort has been made to educate all levels of JB Charleston and to make all personnel aware of the above philosophy, whether they are active duty, Reserve, civilian employees or contractors. Joint Base Charleston has several established goals for reductions in energy usage, water consumption and fuel use. These goals are expected to be reached by the end of fiscal year 2015.

To date, the base has met and in some cases exceeded these goals. For energy usage, the goal was a 30 percent reduction and as of the end of last quarter, JB Charleston had achieved a 38.8 percent reduction in energy usage. For water, our goal was to reduce our consumption by 16 percent and as of the end of last quarter, we had realized a reduction in water usage of 55 percent.

And finally, JB Charleston has a goal of a reducing petroleum based fuel use by 20 percent. Through the end of last quarter, the base had reduced usage of petroleum-based fuels in government-owned vehicle by an impressive 42 percent. This shows that if we all pull together as on unified force, we can make a difference.

As Earth Day approaches, take a look around at the bountiful natural resources that have been entrusted to our care and try to incorporate the above ideals into all that you do. Countless opportunities exist both on JB Charleston and in the local area for hiking, biking, nature tours, bird watching, hunting and fishing. Whether the uniform you wear is blue or green, try to think "green" every day in both your professional and home life and strive to make every day "Earth Day."