On a warm Tuesday morn­ing in May, the offices at the 43rd Aeromedical Evacua­tion Squadron at Pope Field were dark. At first glance, the campus appeared uninhabited. Was the squadron deployed? No. Were the Airmen on leave? No, they were all “going green.”

Upon closer inspection, the Airmen were indeed at their stations, illuminated only by desk lamps.

Elsewhere, the recycling bins were filled to their brims with plastic bottles and alumi­num cans. Staff Sgt. Danielle Goodreau, aeromedical evacua­tion technician vacated a room and turned off the light.

“Being conscious of our resource use is not an ‘every month’ practice or an ‘every week’ practice,” she said. “It’s an ‘every day’ practice.”

The 43rd AES has been certified as a Green Boot unit by the Environmental Divi­sion of the Directorate of Public Works and it is the first Air Force unit to achieve this recognition.

Col. Allen Kidd said he is pleased to be the commander of the first “green” Air Force unit.

“I’m very proud of my Air­men who are committed to energy conservation and who thought that this initiative was important enough to expend time and effort on achieving it,” he said. “I am pleased that we can help Fort Bragg achieve the sustainable community goal. Hopefully, this achieve­ment will help our squadron become even more efficient

and conscious of the goals, and maybe the concept will spread from here to the larger Air Force community.”

The concept of sustainability has certainly spread through­out the 43rd AES.

To reach Green Boot cer­tification, the personnel at the 43rd AES implemented numerous practices including energy conservation, environ­mentally preferred purchasing, waste reduction and alterna­tive transportation into their operations.

Goodreau, who has been instrumental in the imple­mentation of the Green Boot Program at the 43rd AES, said all of the members of the squadron are aware of the sustainability push and share in the efforts. The squadron lead­ership has been especially vital to the program’s success, too.

To conserve energy, the personnel use day lighting, task lighting as much as possible and light bulbs that are energy efficient. “There are no incan­descent bulbs in any of our facilities,” said Senior Airman Donald Souza, who works in facility management at the squadron.

Smart Strips assist in the management of their electron­ics. A daily detail ensures that all lights are turned off and all computers are powered down at the end of the duty day.

According to Staff Sgt. Nich­ole Chavis, one the 43rd AES’s medical logistics personnel, the squadron follows all federal purchasing guidelines. So, green procurement practices are firmly instilled.

To reduce waste, the com­mand has pushed for mini­mal paper use. Most of the

communications in the office are now electronic. The 43rd AES also participates in the Recycling Incentives Pro­gram. Goodreau said that the squadron has used the FMWR vouchers that they have earned from recycling to fund nu­merous activities such as squadron Family days and holiday parties.

To support alternative transportation efforts, the Airmen have arranged carpools and several of the Airmen at the squadron ride their bicycles to work. Staff Sgt. Joseph Lueders is one of those cyclists. He rides four miles to Pope Field from Spring Lake, N.C. and he has discovered that cycling has many benefits. Cycling reduces emissions and alleviates traf­fic woes. “It is faster to ride my bicycle down Manchester Road than to drive,” Lueders said. “Cycling is cheaper than paying for gas, and I’ve lost 20 pounds since I started biking to work.”

Lueders has motivated oth­ers in the squadron to cycle as well.

Even the landscaping at the 43rd AES campus is environ­mentally sound. Goodreau and Souza said that the personnel participate in periodic beau­tification events to maintain their grounds. They gather pine straw from a tract of trees on their site to use as mulch in their flower beds.

Additionally, the entire cam­pus is smoke-free to promote improved air quality and public health.

“As the first Air Force unit to become Green Boot certified, the 43rd AES is a leader in integrating sustainability into

their daily operations,” said Stacey Harter Green Boot Program coordinator. “By con­serving natural resourc­es, they have created a healthier work envi­ronment with lower operating costs. The 43rd AES’s commit­ment to the mission, our environment and the future of Fort Bragg and Pope Field is apparent.”