Standing alongside academic teams from around the country and other government agencies, the Defense Logistics Agency showcased its “green” efforts at the 2012 National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., April 21-23.
DLA and DLA Energy reached out to the Earth Day weekend crowds to show them the Department of Defense has a greater interest and role in sustainability than some might think.
“I think a lot of people were surprised, because when you think about the DoD, a lot of times people don’t really think about sustainability,” DLA Logistics Operations’ Hazardous Minimization Program Manager James Reed explained, based on his experiences over the weekend.
“Once they saw the booth, those people became intrigued, thinking, ‘Okay, what is this, what does the Department of Defense do for sustainability?’ We talked about alternative fuels, the soy-based products and many of the other initiatives we’re doing,” Reed said
A number of DLA sustainability projects were highlighted during the expo, such as alternatives to high volatile organic compound and hazardous air pollutant aircraft cleaners in DLA Aviation and three new alternatives to hazardous cadmium connector finishes for DLA Land and Maritime. DLA Troop Support’s efforts include bio-degradable parachutes for sonobuoys, improved pharmaceuticals disposal and the purchase of 50 percent bio-based cutlery, working to incorporate 100 percent bio-based cutlery into the supply chain.
But Reed and his fellow representative Karen Moran, environmental protection specialist/pollution prevention division chief with DLA Installation Support Environmental Management, noted that many questions related to DLA Energy’s involvement with alternative fuels.
“People are really interested in alternative fuels because they know we use a lot of fuels, and they see us trying to lessen the amount of petroleum we use. A lot of people have heard about the fuels being used by aircraft, and many people were very knowledgeable about the alternative fuels part… but fuel was the biggest portion of the questions,” Reed said.
Starting a dialogue with expo attendees and participants allowed DLA personnel to share the agency’s sustainability efforts, and also allowed for a valuable look at what may be in the future of sustainability.
“The expo was an excellent opportunity to show the public, military personnel and congressional representatives who stopped by the booth what DLA and DoD are doing in the area of sustainability. It also gave students competing for awards and grants an opportunity to see a potential customer for their inventions, and a possible employer,” Reed said.
Joining DLA on the final day of the expo, Jeanne Binder represented DLA Energy’s research and development efforts. She saw, firsthand, the projects that students taking part in the Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet competition in the NDSE were working on.
“At this year's expo, I was very interested in the work being done to convert biomass to fuel or energy. I was very impressed by the ideas and dedicated efforts of these teams to test out these concepts,” Binder said after speaking with the teams. “It is very inspiring to see the inventiveness and enthusiasm that the teams expressed in working to improve sustainability and improve the environment.”
Binder explained that DLA Energy has several research and development projects related to the integration of alternative fuels into the bulk fuel supply chain, focusing on the certification and qualification of alternative fuel in military equipment and infrastructure. Additionally, there are several congressionally-funded projects for developing technologies for producing biofuels with the potential to play a role in the development of a robust alternative fuels base.
“DLA Energy is currently working with three universities on congressionally-funded biofuels projects,” Binder said.
“There are a lot of very talented people with great ideas to create a better, environmentally sustainable future,” Binder noted about the expo. “DLA Energy needs to continue to be open to exploring and encouraging the integration of sustainable energy solutions into our supply chain.”