FORT DRUM When it comes to finding ways to go green and save green, officials on post see how small changes locally can make a big difference.
Its about savings; its about stewardship, said James M. Miller, the posts environmental chief. They augment each other.
That work goes all the way down to the collection and repurposing of antifreeze and cleaning solvents used in maintaining the posts vast vehicle fleet.
The waste fluids collected around the post are brought together at a distilling operation based near the Gasoline Alley gate off Route 26. Special distilling machinery at the facility purifies and dehydrates the product, leaving only its main chemical formula, ethylene glycol. That formula can be rehydrated and, after quality testing, be readied for another use.
The circle of life continues, Mr. Miller said.
Annually, the work saves about 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of antifreeze and solvent, creating savings of about $50,000. Every dollar counts, Mr. Miller said.
Outside the small processing facility stands a series of tanks, which contain used oil and off-spec fuel that can be repurposed and sold off-post. Repurposing of up to 40,000 gallons of used oil can save up to $200,000 in disposal costs, while the repurposing of up to 20,000 gallons of off-spec fuel can save up to $150,000.
More importantly, the above-ground tanks are set up to avoid leaks, a problem that has plagued the post in years past, including the grounds near the tank area.
Theres no comparison, Mr. Miller said. This is so much better.
In the past decade, the post has eliminated nearly all of its 800 underground storage tanks. The 11 that remain are primarily at the posts consumer gas stations. Besides saving money, the posts tank removals have saved it further regulatory challenges.
Its really been a win-win, he said.
The fluid reuse is a small part of the recycling efforts in place on post as a component of the Armys Net Zero Initiative, which aims to preserve resources and reduce waste going to landfills. In the 2013 fiscal year, the post recycled about 2,200 tons of material, from scrap metal to cardboard to wood pallets.
Anything thats recyclable, were recycling it, Mr. Miller said.
The recycling work at the post is just one facet of the sites green operations.
The post has spent years implementing items such as geothermal heating for buildings, solar walls that can regulate the temperature of incoming air and systems to conserve heating during low-traffic hours. Three buildings have active photovoltaic panels that not only supply power to their own building but pass excess power back into the grid.
All of these systems come together to reduce these greenhouse gases, Mr. Miller said.
According to post statistics, emissions have fallen about 35.2 percent from 2008 to 2012, from 54,003 metric tons to 34,957 tons. Mr. Miller said those emission reductions correspond with cuts in fuel costs, though exact numbers were not available.
The next major green step for the post will be to have its power supplied by the biomass plant operated on post by ReEnergy Holdings LLC. The Army on Feb. 19 announced its intent to award a 20-year contract to the company to supply up to 28 megawatts of power, which would make it the services largest renewable energy project to date.
However, no timetable has been set on when the final deal will be approved.