In an effort to reduce the environmental footprint of field work at Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District has embraced the Green and Sustainable Remediation (GSR) initiative—a pilot program designed to encourage contractors to be more environmentally conscious.
“Including GSR into FUDS projects is important because we have an opportunity to set the example,” said Corey White, Louisville District environmental engineer. “Implementing sustainable approaches to accomplish our mission is the economically and environmentally responsible thing to do. It is important to ensure that the Corps is a good steward of the environment.”
The pilot program began in 2016 in response to a USACE Headquarters request to increase the number of FUDS projects where GSR is considered and implemented. By the end of the year there will be seven contracts with the Louisville District utilizing GSR including work at FUDS sites in Michigan and Ohio.
“All of our environmental contractors were okay with it when surveyed,” said White. “A lot of them do this anyway as their own sustainable practices, so it’s not a big deal for them to implement these things.
“We supply them with a list of typical best management practices,” said White. “Then they decide whether or not to implement them on the project and report back on what they’re doing that is green and sustainable. The contractor can also come up with their own sustainable practices and report them back to us.”
The GSR strategy includes implementing sustainable considerations through best management practices that are expected to improve the environmental, social, or economic aspects of the cleanup process.
“We like to see that they attempt to reduce their environmental footprint for field work,” said White. “A smaller footprint could be attained by reducing emissions, conserving resources and minimizing waste generation.”
Additional examples include using teleconferences rather than meetings when feasible, using recycled materials, using alternate fuel options, or even running electrical equipment during times of lower energy demand to reduce stress on the energy grid during peak periods.
“It could even be as simple as deciding when to use electronic report submittals versus hard copies to save on paper,” said White.
At the former Raco Army Airfield and Missile Site in Michigan, 50 best management practices were implemented as part of the remedial investigation activities—one of which included integrating schedules to allow for resource sharing and fewer days of field work. Geo Consultants, LLC., contracted to do the field work, reduced days in the field by planning as many tasks as possible during one mobilization.
The contractor also implemented green techniques with water and soil waste. Rather than having to transport excavated soil off-site for disposal, anything deemed clean, non-hazardous soil was left or reused on site.
Water resources were handled in the same way. After the borings were complete, drilling fluids from soil borings that were deemed acceptable quality were able to be released back into the aquifer versus being stored and hauled off-site. This significantly reduced transportation costs.
“Implementing GSR practices was challenging at first due to the nature of the site and the task at hand,” said Kim Morris of Geo Consultants. “Team facilitation between GEO and USACE proved very positive not only for GSR, but also for successful completion of field activities. GSR alternatives provided cost savings, reduced field time and an optimized technical approach.”
Moving forward, all new FUDS contracts in the district will have a GSR component included. “The reports from our contractors who have completed the exercise are showing implementation of several practices that are resulting in significant cost savings,” said White. “So far it’s been very successful and we hope to see that continue as these contracts move forward.”