he Department of the Navy was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) "Best-of-the-Best" Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards for 2007 in a ceremony Sept. 19.
The award recognized the Navy's efforts to reduce the amount of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in use throughout the fleet.
The importance and significance of the award was recognized by Donald Schregardus, deputy assistant Secretary of the Navy (Environment) who attended the ceremony.
"This award recognizes the Navy's hard work in fulfilling its mission of national defense while safeguarding the environment," Schregardus said.
The Navy has been a leader in reducing ODS use. In particular, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has led the charge in converting the systems on Navy ships to use ozone-friendly substances.
When the ODS reduction effort began in 1987, the Navy had more than 3,100 air-conditioning and refrigeration units that used ODS. Through NAVSEA's efforts, almost 90 percent of the air-conditioning units have been replaced, and Navy's overall ODS usage has fallen by 95 percent annually.
The success in ODS reduction aboard ships is mirrored by the Naval Air Systems Command's efforts, in partnership with the Air Force, to find and implement alternatives for ODS in aircraft. Because of environmental concerns over halon, a substance used to combat engine fires on Navy aircraft, NAVAIR sought alternative firefighting agents. Their work resulted in the first-ever non-halon, fire-suppression system deployed in an aircraft, setting a new standard for the Department of Defense and industry alike.
According to Schregardus, it is sustainable practices such as these that are the way ahead, and will define the Navy's business practices now and into the future.
Ozone is a critical substance that forms a layer in the atmosphere and shields the earth from certain forms of ultraviolet radiation. Reducing or eliminating the use of ODS in fire-suppression systems and refrigeration units has been shown to help in maintaining the overall health of the ozone layer, allowing it to continue screening out potentially harmful radiation from the sun.
For more information on the Navy's environmental programs, visit http://secnavportal.donhq.navy.mil/ie/environment.