FRCE hosts state environmental secretary
Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) had the opportunity to showcase the command’s commitment to environmental stewardship during a recent visit by North Carolina Secretary of the Environment Elizabeth Biser.
FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont welcomed Biser to the depot Sept. 6 to learn more about the command’s operations and tour the facility, with an emphasis on the work FRCE does to protect the environment, the workforce and the surrounding community.
“It’s an honor to host Secretary Biser and have the opportunity to highlight the proactive stance FRC East takes when it comes to meeting and exceeding our environmental objectives,” Belmont said. “Our aircraft and component maintenance, repair and overhaul operations are wide-ranging and complex, but so is our commitment to environmental stewardship. Our workforce realizes the importance of protecting and preserving our community’s natural resources now and for generations to come, and conservation and sustainability are built into all of our processes.”
FRCE’s environmental performance goals, which include aggressively pursuing regulatory compliance and sustainability benchmarks, have consistently earned recognition by state, federal and Department of Defense entities, including designation as a Steward in the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) program since 2004. Stewards are the initiative’s elite members, and display a commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by law.
These efforts helped the depot exceed its 2021 environmental objectives, including cutting industrial wastewater generation by 45%, reducing energy intensity by 18%, and achieving a landfill diversion rate of 61%. In addition to meeting environmental objectives, the depot’s environmental program also successfully completed several audits and inspections in 2021 and 2022, passing each one with no major findings.
“These metrics, especially the reduction in wastewater generation and the landfill diversion rate, are something to be proud of,” Biser said. “The operations here are a lot to manage, but with a comprehensive program and a proactive approach, it is clear you are going above and beyond in your environmental stewardship.”
Partnerships with the state’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative and private industry helped the command identify areas for improvement and reach its sustainability goals, said FRCE Compliance and Quality Department Head Amy Morgan.
“This is how we use the Environmental Stewardship Initiative,” Morgan explained. “We’ve been to several companies across the state, trying to get ideas of how we can implement their environmental conservation processes in our facilities to save water and energy, and increase recycling.”
During the visit, Morgan and leaders from the depot’s Environmental Division escorted Biser on a tour of FRCE that focused on the command’s operations, and environmental conservation and pollution prevention initiatives. The group stopped at the future site of the F-35 lift fan facility, currently under construction, which was funded in part by a $5 million investment by the state. Other points of interest included a structure with a cistern system that collects rainwater for use within the building; an office and hangar complex designed with green building standards in mind; the advanced air filtration systems used in the depot’s aircraft paint hangars and booths; and the V-22 and H-53 aircraft production lines’ sanding processes.
These initiatives, and FRCE’s overall environmental performance, can only happen when there is buy-in from all levels of the workforce, Belmont said.
“What you’re seeing here are some examples of the out-of-the-box thinking our team does, but it’s also a testament to how environmental responsibility is truly ingrained into our day-to-day operations,” he said. “At each turn, everyone from our artisans on the hangar deck to the upper tiers of leadership have environmental stewardship on their minds – not just because it’s required by regulation or by law, but because it’s the right thing to do.”