Ansbach’s Cross-Functional Team: Sustaining our planet — one initiative at a time

By Walter Christian Mattil, Director, USAG Ansbach DPW

The Sustainable Environmental Management System Cross-Functional Team is a group of professionals who meet every six weeks. We are comprised of participants from every single entity and organization at the garrison: the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Defense Commissary Agency, the Ansbach Health and Dental Clinic, the Logistics Readiness Center, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, etc. Our goal is to act as a “think tank” and derive new ideas or policies that promote conservation of resources, sustainable environmental practices, and the education of our residents. We work to reduce utility consumption, reduce water consumption, increase recycling percentages, and investigate all kinds of sustainable practices that are “Earth friendly.”

Our Self Help Stores, for example, have phased out almost all environmentally unsafe chemicals and light-bulbs and have replaced them with the ‘green procurement’ products that are safer and consume less electricity and water.

After a visit to an urban botanical laboratory in Würzburg, the team has recommended the planting of natural, indigenous wild flowers in specific areas.  Not only are these flowers beautiful, but they attract bees and butterflies, and they require almost no watering or maintenance.

We are executing electricity and hot water reduction experiments in Army Family Housing units with metered utilities. We are working with a local German beekeeper to bring honeybees to Urlas — in a collective German/American effort to learn about beekeeping.  Since bees are responsible for the pollination of more than half of the plants in the world, this initiative helps our local German farmers as well! (A note about bees: There are areas in the world (China) where deforestation and abhorrent ecological practices have resulted in vast expanses with no bees. As a result, in some areas the Chinese have had to resort to human pollination. If you perform an internet image search for “Chinese pollination,” you will see what I’m talking about. (Yes, those are Chinese workers … up in trees … pollinating the apple trees … because there are no bees!)

From the last and previous meetings, there are two very interesting initiatives that I want to bring to everyone’s attention:

In mid-August, the garrison will be installing 10 automatic water-bottle chiller fillers in various locations around the garrison. These water chillers not only filter and chill the water, but they are also motion-activated, and they are intended to refill reusable water bottles. In addition to saving water, it will provide chilled and filtered water to our garrison. And, it will hopefully reduce the use of disposable plastic water bottles that are clogging our landfills and oceans — and take millennia to decompose.

The second initiative will work to reduce dangerous automotive emissions, save gasoline, and provide those Soldiers and family members rides when in need. We are in the process of installing signage at selected bus stops and locations around the garrison. Say, for example, you’re at Katterbach near the Shoppette and you need a ride to Urlas. You flip the sign to “Urlas” and have a seat.  If the regular shuttle bus doesn’t get you first, a kindly passerby on his or her way to Urlas may stop and offer you a ride. This has been employed at other garrisons, and we hope it will be of great benefit here in Ansbach.

Finally, our Cross-Functional Team is always in search of brilliant minds and innovative ideas. Do you feel you’re qualified to join our team?  Do you want to help make decisions that will preserve our planet for our children and their children? If so, come and join our team. To learn more, call DPW Environmental at 09802-83-3422 or DSN 467-3422.

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