'Greening-up' makes cents

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- In a previous commentary, I touched on the value of "ownership" - the idea that we each own a piece of the Air Force and should endeavor to build its success. Well, Earth Day is right around the corner, and it presents an opportunity to take pride in ownership. Earth Day, occurring on April 22 this year, is often celebrated by planting trees, cleaning up litter, or holding other community projects to improve awareness of environmental issues. It's an opportunity for your "inner-environmentalist" to come out. This year, I'd like to take a different twist on this familiar event. Rather than focusing solely on the environmental benefits, I ask that you consider the financial benefits of being "green."

In today's cost-conscious Air Force, environmental programs such as recycling, and energy and water conservation may not be the obvious choices to save Uncle Sam dollars. However, it is exactly in programs like these where you can make a difference in your work place. All it takes is a little pride, a little effort to do the right thing, and a dose of leadership and ownership--standing up to show that you care about the environment and the Air Force. So, with that, here's a couple of ideas to get started:

Recycling. It makes sense to recycle our paper, plastic, and cans--it avoids putting them in a landfill and reduces the use of new raw materials. Few realize though, that recycling is a money-maker for Goodfellow. Each year, recycled materials from Goodfellow are sold and several thousand dollars are earned toward our recycling and pollution prevention programs. Recycling also avoids the sizeable expense of disposing tons of trash from Goodfellow into the San Angelo landfill, which reduces our overall operating costs. Makes sense...win-win for the environment and for the budget.

Energy conservation. Energy is critical to accomplishing our day-to-day mission. I don't need to explain how reducing our energy use will also reduce air pollution and help break our dependence on fossil fuels...you know that. However, the cost of energy is also a huge part of our base operating budget, to the tune of more than $3.2 million annually. So next time you're in the office, make a choice. Turn off the lights and computer monitor when you're gone and think twice about leaving the coffee pot on all day. Keep your windows closed when the A/C is on and if it's running too cold in summer, let your facility manager know so CE can adjust it to a more comfortable setting. These are simple actions, but imagine the savings when everyone does their part. A mere 1 percent energy reduction saves $32,000 per year...what could you do with an additional $32,000 in your budget?

Water conservation. We're in West Texas, in the midst of the worst drought in several decades. Don't need to say much more. Water is our livelihood. San Angelo needs it, we need it, and our Firefighter training mission depends on it. In addition, water usage costs the base nearly $800,000 each year. So next time you see a leaky faucet or a continuously running toilet, let your facility manager know about it. When you take a shower, practice water conservation. Simple things like washing clothes with only a full load of laundry or turning off the faucet can add up to big savings--both in gallons and dollars.

These are just a few tips on how we can make a difference this Earth Day. Interested in more tips? Check out www.energysavers.gov and www.epa.gov/earthday. There are literally hundreds of ways you can get involved and make a difference. But, the real question is will you? That's your choice. I encourage you to be a leader, a steward, an owner of the process. Experience the satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference, and finding out that being "green" really does make cents.