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Peterson recognized as local environmental leader

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It is said the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but Peterson Air Force Base is being recognized for having less grass and more rocks, among other environmentally sound practices.

The base is one of only 160 organizations in the state to be honored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for outstanding environmental achievements at the 16th Environmental Leadership Awards on Oct. 16 at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver. The awards are given by the department in partnership with the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board and the Colorado Environmental Partnership.

"It's exciting," said Fred Brooks, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, environmental element chief. " I mean, it's the first time we were ever involved with this, then to get accepted at the highest level, Gold, it lets us showcase our efforts at Peterson. We are being recognized with some of the most innovative companies in the state. It's prestigious when you think of it in those terms."

The awards honor Colorado organizations with gold, silver or bronze designations for voluntarily surpassing compliance with both state and federal regulations, as well as commitment to continual environmental improvement. A lengthy application demonstrating current and past efforts is part of that process.

The award has some benefits beside the notoriety. One of the bigger ones is some expedited permitting through the state, Brooks said. Another is cross-knowledge and sharing of ideas. Rubbing shoulders with many people who are innovative when it comes to energy conservation is a plus.

Another, more noticeable, contributing project is related to water use on Peterson AFB. Voluntary water restrictions saved 130 million gallons of water, reducing water use intensity by 50 percent. A central irrigation system saved another 300,000 gallons and $93,000 a year. Xeriscaping and turf reduction resulted in 14 million more gallons in savings to the tune of $43,000 in saved maintenance. The turf reduction project was such a success that Air Force Space Command modeled a command-wide conservation project after Peterson's.

In addition to the recent initiatives, Peterson has several goals to continue improving environmental performance going forward, including continued energy and water use reductions, deconstructing buildings instead of demolishing, and achieving a 65 percent diversion rate of solid waste by 2020, mainly through single stream recycling.

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