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NEWS | Aug. 29, 2008

Environmental Symposium Highlights Navy's Initiatives

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs Naval Air Station Jacksonville

The "Sea of Change" Environmental Symposium held Aug. 26 by the City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and University of North Florida provided the opportunity to showcase the U.S. Navy's environmental stewardship efforts. 

Capt. Jack Scorby Jr., Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville's commanding officer, spoke at the multiagency event.

"Protecting our environment and conserving natural resources is a daily priority of the U.S. Navy. Coastal land and waters that provide access to the open seas are among the most basic mission-support assets that we manage," said Scorby. 

"It's very important to note that the Navy places a high priority on protecting our environment and conserving out natural resources."

He said the Navy spends nearly $1 billion annually on environmental issues. 

Scorby also mentioned that NAS Jacksonville directly supports the Chief of Naval Operation's goals of strengthening alliances, defeating global terrorism and preserving natural resources.

"The Navy is committed to preserving and protecting the environment as a necessary part of our mission to defend the United States," he stated. "Accomplishment of the warfighting mission, with the responsibility to safeguard natural systems upon which our quality of life depends, is one of the top priorities for the Navy today.

"When I assumed command of NAS Jax a little over a year ago, my family and I were impressed by the abundance of community parks and by the beauty of the St. John's River. I quickly learned the vital role that this spectacular body of water plays in the development of Florida's First Coast - and the variety of economic and cultural benefits that flow from it."

NAS Jacksonville, the third largest naval station in the United States, employs approximately 25,000 active- duty, reserve, civilians and contract personnel through an annual payroll in excess of $900 million. The station and its 110 tenant commands - including two air wings and 13 squadrons - generates more than $400 million in goods and services for the local economy.

Scorby explained that the base has more than $350 million worth of construction projects underway, including the Navy's largest aircraft hangar, a new helicopter hangar and the expansion of Naval Hospital Jacksonville. The new projects are incorporating "green" technologies.

"Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast recently opened its new engineering operations building. This structure is a prime example of replacing old, inefficient structures with facilities that incorporate 'Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.' 

"Most of you here today know this by its acronym, LEED - which is a consensus-based rating system that promotes sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. The command has obtained LEED registration for this building with the U.S. Green Building Council.

"At NAS Jax, we continuously pursue partnerships to enhance our natural resources while protecting the environment. The design of a wastewater reuse system with the St. Johns River Water Management District is a priority. Other partnerships with the City of Jacksonville, State of Florida and U.S. Forest Service reflect NAS Jacksonville's commitment to effective environmental stewardship."

Scorby shared two recent environmental partnership successes with the audience. In 2006, the Navy worked with the State of Florida and the City of Jacksonville to purchase 1,651 acres of environmentally sensitive land immediately east of Outlying Field Whitehouse. 

"This purchase increased Florida Forever and Preservation Project acreage while protecting our Navy airfield from incompatible development," he said.

Scorby also discussed the Navy's commitment to environmental stewardship at sea. The "green" shipboard system on all surface combatants includes plastic waste processors to compress and store plastic trash, allowing for zero discharge of plastics at sea; hazardous material management systems to reduce generation and offload of hazardous waste; waste management equipment to responsibly handle food, cardboard, paper, metal and glass; and oil and water separators to keep petroleum products out of the ocean and green hull antifouling paints to decrease hull drag and save fuel. 

Additionally, the Navy is part of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, working to preserve and protect coral reefs. 

Environmental restoration plays a big role in accomplishing the Navy's mission to clean up old contamination sites on bases. As of fiscal year 2007, approximately 83 percent of Navy installation restoration sites are "response complete." The remainder are on track for completion by 2014. 

He concluded his presentation by summarizing his five keys for effective environmental stewardship at NAS Jacksonville: compliance, pollution prevention, natural and cultural resources preservation, partnerships and encroachment protection.