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104th receives Federal Green Challenge Award for water conservation

104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass. -- The 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, received the Federal Green Challenge Award during the Environmental Protection Agency New England 2013 Environmental Merit Award Ceremony on June 26 at the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse in Boston for their achievements in water conservation at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.

"This past year, EPA New England has worked to fine tune our efforts to find sustainable solutions to environmental challenges in New England," said Curt Spalding, the Regional Administrator for EPA New England.

The award ceremony recognized more than 30 individuals and organizations throughout Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island for their environmental stewardship, activism and support.

The 104th achieved a 40 percent reduction in water consumption and was selected as one of five recipients of the Region I Federal Green Challenge Award.

The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort through the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, challenging EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government's environmental impact.

Federal offices or facilities that choose to participate in this challenge must select two out of six target areas, waste, electronics, purchasing, energy, water, or transportation, one of which must be waste, electronics, or purchasing. Members commit to an improvement goal of at least five percent per year in their selected target areas.

"The 40 percent reduction in water consumption equates to about a million gallons of water," said John Richardson, the Base Environmental Coordinator for the 104th.
Part of their water conservation project included installing efficient sprinkler heads and rain sensors, Richardson said. The new sprinkler system alone reduced the water used to irrigate lawns by almost half.

"We also incorporated motion sensor sink faucets in three newly constructed and remodeled buildings," said Jennifer Baker, State Environmental Manager for the 104th.
 
"Our water conservation efforts are just a small piece of the pie; there are many more projects in the works."

The 104th previously received an award for electronic recycling in 2009. The base is also currently working on a single-stream, robust recycling initiative, Baker said.

"Col. Keefe (Commander of the 104th) is interested and in tune with utility usage at our base" said Capt. Sean Cahill, the Deputy Base Civil Engineer for the 104th. "Having support from wing leadership inspires the members of the 104th to go "green.". We are definitely on people's radar as we continue our efforts to reduce and recycle."

It is great to be a part of the Federal Green Challenge because it also helps reinforce the Air Force mandates to conserve energy and water, Baker said.

"We will continue doing our small part towards this national goal," Baker said.