Story by Cpl Victor Mincy on 04/20/2018April 22, 2018 marks 48 years since Earth Day was recognized as a national holiday. Earth Day, originally instated following an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, became a day for the people of the United States to demonstrate support for the environment and protect it over time.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, recognizes Earth Day through service members' and staffs' efforts to be good stewards of the environment through multiple projects and programs.
MCAS Miramar's energy conservation team has worked for years to improve the air station's energy efficiency, and seeks to reduce resource energy consumption as well as reduce the environmental impact of using the resources that provide energy for the installation.
"We've started programs to reduce the installation's energy dependence on the San Diego power grid, reducing energy costs. We actively use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, to measure and track energy and water consumption," said Mick Wasco, MCAS Miramar's energy project manager.
Using Solar Power
The base also uses solar thermal systems at the chow hall, fitness centers and the base pool, which reduces natural gas consumption by using heat from the sun to produce energy.
"We have a photovoltaic system commonly referred to as PV, which are the solar panels commonly seen around base. They produce electricity through the collection of solar energy," said Wasco. "We are planning to replace all streetlights and indoor lights at the Marine Corps Exchange and fitness facilities with LED lighting, install more solar panels, continue installing solar thermal systems and continue MCAS Miramar's transition to renewable energy sources."
Converting Waste to Energy
A landfill on MCAS Miramar produces a large portion of the base's energy, including all of the energy supplied to the flight line. Members of the local community provide waste to the landfill on a daily basis, where it is converted to methane gas. The methane then transfers to generators at the Fortistar Methane Group facility, a self-sustained facility that run its engines converting gas into electricity, ultimately going to the base for use.
"The landfill being on base gives us the opportunity to get most of our electricity from garbage," said Wasco. "We produce half of our electricity from garbage on-site, which not only reduces fossil fuel consumption, but also increases our energy resilience because we can use that renewable energy when the San Diego electrical grid is down."
Using Reclaimed Water
Since August 2009, MCAS Miramar has utilized a reclaimed water system, reducing the base's demand for potable water.
"The recycled water system supports the installation's irrigation system, street sweeping, and aids in dust control at construction sites. Other isolated recycled water systems are used for aircraft and vehicle wash racks," said Wasco.
The energy conservation team is also planning to introduce a recycled water system to cool buildings on the installation and further reduce the energy and water consumption that air conditioning requires, due to increased cooling needs.
MCAS Miramar also maintains a Marine-operated recycling center, which sorts and disposes of broken, outdated, and hazardous materials from the installation's units or Marines. This helps raise the diversion rate, which is the amount of non-recyclable waste, not sent to the landfill.
Waste management is putting up signs to raise awareness to the Marines on base to remind them of the importance of recycling on the installation.
Mike Corona, director of waste management stated, "San Diego's mandatory diversion rate is 75% by 2020."
Sgt. Ryan Wildin, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the recycling center, encourages Marines to, "separate their trash from recyclable waste to reduce the amount of recyclable materials in the landfill."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States recycling rate, since Earth Day was founded in 1970, has gone up approximately 28 percent.
In April 1995, the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson said during a speech on Earth Day's anniversary, "The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity. That's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world."
MCAS Miramar strives to go above and beyond to protect the environment and celebrates earth day with the gusto that only good stewards of the environment can.