2015 Federal Green Challenge Award Winners in the New England Region
Recognition is an important part of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). Awards were given at the regional level in the categories of Innovation and Education & Outreach.
In the New England region, the 2015 award winners are the Vermont Army National Guard and the VA New England Health Care System.
Vermont Army National Guard, Department of Defense, Jericho, VT
The Vermont Army National Guard's (VTARNG) Ethan Allen Training Site hosts the Army Mountain Warfare School and 11,000 acre firing range. One of the facility's greatest challenges is to educate new and visiting soldiers about the programs and procedures that reduce the site's environmental footprint. Many soldiers come from areas that don't have recycling programs. To address this situation, VTARNG instituted recycling procedures, designed and installed new signs at the sites recycling transfer station, setup color coded recycling and trash bins, distributed handouts and send email reminders. A recycling lead was hired to monitor the recycling operations, which included "dumpster dives" to remove contamination. Finally, incoming commanders and new units received briefings on recycling requirements and procedures. These education and outreach efforts paid off by increasing the amount of recycled material collected by 16 tons, or 58 percent, and reducing the amount of trash send to landfill by 19 percent.
Education & Outreach
Boston Healthcare System (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Brockton), Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston, MA
The VA New England Health Care System's (VISN 1) laundry operations on the Brockton hospital campus processes roughly 8 million pounds of pillowcases, sheets, towels and patient apparel each year for the eleven VA hospitals in New England. To pursue VISN 1's waste reduction goals, the laundry operation implemented an innovative recycling program for repurposing reject linen. The laundry staff began by culling the majority of torn and worn linen as it is washed, dried, ironed and folded. To capture a greater amount of damaged linen, the laundry team piloted a "Nothing But Net" program at several hospitals, allowing staff to return usable but clean items in green net bags. Then a vendor was selected to establish a secondary market of local businesses to use the discarded fabrics. Today, these materials are used by animal shelters for bedding, and by auto repair shops for machine rags. In addition to establishing a local market for repurposed materials, the VA Brockton laundry operations diverted 16 tons of cloth from the landfill and saved over $150,000 in 2014.