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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2013

Civil engineer squadrons pursuing common environmental structure

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

One of the benefits of joint basing is manifesting itself at all three Joint Base San Antonio civil engineer squadrons, which are sharing their best environmental management system practices while pursuing a common EMS structure.

Members of all three squadrons are getting together for quarterly EMS working group meetings to share these practices and strive to meet other goals, including environmental excellence, Sam Klein, JBSA environmental management lead coordinator, said.

Defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as "a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency," an environmental management system addresses a range of concerns, from air quality and water quality to hazardous materials and hazardous waste.

All three locations can take pride in their recent efforts to reduce environmental impacts, Klein said.

JBSA-Lackland's recycling center recycled 468 tons of cardboard in 2012, bringing in more than $123,562 to the Air Force, while the location's brass recycling program, which targets bullet casings, netted $498,298, he said. Nearly 2,000 pounds of batteries were recycled in 2012, and about 2,400 pounds are anticipated by June.

"JBSA-Fort Sam Houston's natural resources conservation effort at JBSA-Camp Bullis has won awards and protects undeveloped land over the Edwards Aquifer," Klein said. "JBSA-Randolph's environmental section has won numerous awards and has received the approval of a state-of-the-art water treatment plant at the JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake."

Other noteworthy efforts include "protecting wildlife within installation fences" and "an aggressive program for protecting historic buildings," he said.

The working group meetings provide an opportunity "to get out the latest information, get feedback and let us know what's working," Klein said.

Unit environmental coordinators said the meetings improve communication.

"The working group clarifies specific responsibilities and receives the most up-to-date information about the environmental programs directly from the program managers in those particular areas," Robert Spence, Lackland Defense Language Institute UEC, said.

Brandi Brownlee, 902nd Logistics Readiness Squadron UEC, said she likes being involved in the sessions because she can get the right information to the right level of leadership in her organization.

"I like being there for the new information, and there are always name and acronym changes," she said.

The meetings also aid the three locations' EMS integration efforts, Klein said.

"One of our goals is to lean as far forward as possible in JBSA integration efforts to better serve our customers in fiscally austere times," he said. "We also want to continue to meet our responsibilities to regulators and the public in protecting the environment."

Other goals Klein identified included "effectively communicating with our customers about how their missions affect the environment and our environmental compliance" and "continuing to seek improvement in areas that we have identified as needing improvement."