The Defense Department announced the winners of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards today.
The awards recognize installations, teams and individuals for their accomplishments in innovative and cost-effective environmental management strategies that support mission readiness.
On tackling the climate change crisis, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said: "We will elevate climate as a national security priority, integrating climate considerations into the department's policies, strategies and partner engagements.
"Three priorities — defending the nation, taking care of our people and succeeding through teamwork — will guide our efforts," he added.
In 2021, the DOD selected the following eight winners from 27 nominees:
Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation: Eglin Air Force Base, Florida — Developed a four-pronged approach to gopher tortoise conservation. Through a fiscal year 2020 memorandum of agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Eglin became the primary recipient site for gopher tortoise populations that alternative energy production had displaced across Florida. During FY 2019-2020, conservationists moved more than 2,300 gopher tortoises to the installation and Eglin is on track to reach its goal of receiving 6,000 tortoises by 2023.
Environmental Quality, Industrial Installation: Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California — Partnered with the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office to remove vegetation obstructions in the runway clear zone. By re-scoping the project and conducting a new, streamlined National Environmental Policy Act environmental assessment, the installation lowered the project's cost from $20 million to $7.8 million.
Environmental Quality, Overseas Installation: Yokota Air Base, Japan — Employed an environmental inspection process that reduced the need for one-time shop ramp-ups for inspections. The team performed more frequent inspections spread throughout the year, which resulted in a smoother, more balanced workload. In FY 2020, Yokota Air Base conducted 174 environmental inspections and identified or corrected 17 out of 19 significant discrepancies, which increased environmental compliance by 90%.
Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation: U.S. Army Garrison Fort Polk, Louisiana — Used advanced technologies to reduce energy and water use; increased the installation's resilience through renewable onsite resources; and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, facilities and construction. Focusing on energy resilience and efficiency, Fort Polk invested $13 million in funding for advanced technology projects during FY 2019-2020 to expand microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicles, building control integration and infrastructure improvements.
Sustainability, Individual/Team: Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Pennsylvania — Created a new, fast-track ordering process using the Weapon Systems Support Hazardous Material Management Tool to automatically approve the purchase of sustainable products from the Navy-wide Green Authorized Use List. The team published standard operating procedures and technical guidance for the new order system.
Environmental Restoration, Installation: Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina — Completed two years of intensive Installation Strategic Acquisition Planning, which resulted in the early awarding of a multiyear $16.3 million Optimized Remediation Contract in August 2020. The three restoration projects achieved a record 10 site closeouts, two response complete milestones, and 11 optimized remedies.
Cultural Resources Management, Small Installation: Naval Base Point Loma, California — Rehabilitated the Post Exchange and Gymnasium Building 158, a premier historic structure. Contractors, historic buildings architects, design managers and construction managers worked closely with the Cultural Resources Management program staff to retain the historic building's character and features while providing a modern workspace for the new occupant, Naval Base Point Loma's Security Department.
Cultural Resources Management, Individual/Team: Thomas E. Penders, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida — Led six archaeological surveys, saving the 45th Space Wing an estimated $480,000. The surveys paved the way for the use of lands for the development of critical defense and launch programs identified in the 45th Space Wing General Plan while complying with the National Historic Preservation Act and Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Each year since 1962, the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards have honored service members and civilians across DOD. The nominees' achievements include significant strides to conserve the nation's natural and cultural resources; protect human health; prevent or eliminate pollution at the source; clean up hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, and munitions on DOD sites; and incorporate environmental requirements into weapon systems acquisition.
DOD also leverages technology to develop innovative solutions to existing and emerging human health and environmental challenges. A diverse panel of 47 judges from federal and state agencies, academia and the private sector evaluated nominations from DOD components to help determine the winners.