Coast Guard Adopts Environmental Initiatives

By Carlos Diaz

WASHINGTON – Known around the world by its emblematic orange and blue, the U.S. Coast Guard added “green” to its operations as part of yesterday’s celebration of Earth Day.

Thomas Granito, from the Coast Guard’s environmental management office, discussed ongoing green initiatives adopted by the service in a “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable April 21.

“I have been with the Coast Guard for more than 25 years, and I’ve seen how the service is becoming greener, as is much of the rest of the world these days,” Granito said. “In the past, the Coast Guard was more concerned about maintaining compliance with federal regulations. Currently, the Coast Guard continues to shift from compliance to sustainability — basically ‘greening up’ the Coast Guard.”

Only environmental personnel participated in site cleanups in the past, Granito said, but today things are different. Changes in management, organization styles and a more responsive and flexible attitude, similar to what the Defense Department has done in recent years, have led to changes in the way the Coast Guard operates, he added.

Many of the Coast Guard’s roughly 600 facilities are going green, Granito said.

“For example, the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn., developed a sustainability initiatives network for recycling and using electronics and related items,” he said. “This initiative helped them win a White House award for reducing electronics materials. The Coast Guard Academy was also the first military academy to participate in a program called recycle-mania, in which colleges get together to come up with recycling initiatives.”

Granito also cited initiatives adopted at Station Emerald Isle, N.C., where recycled products such as gypsum board have been used in the station’s renovation project. This unit also has replaced traditional air-conditioning systems with more-efficient geothermal HVAC systems, he noted.

Other services have helped the Coast Guard in its search for green initiatives, Granito said.

“As far as following what some of the other agencies are doing, we’ve always got an eye out to see what they’re doing,” he said. “I know that our vessel folks are usually keyed in to what the Navy is doing, and our aviation folks are always clued in to Air Force and what they’re doing.”

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