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.”