Grafenwoehr recognized for green efforts

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
April 21, 2011

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- It’s not often that the race is won before the starter’s pistol fires, but at Grafenwoehr, when it comes to waste management that maybe exactly what’s happened.

The Department of Defense announced yesterday that the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr is among 17 self-nominated U.S. Army installations that has been selected from a pool of 100 to participate in a pilot program called Net Zero.  Installations wishing to participate self-nominated into the category of their choice.

Net Zero is divided into three categories; energy, water and waste.   The goal of the first two categories is to consume only as much energy or water as the garrison is able to produce and the goal of the third is eliminate waste additions to landfills. 

The program is set to kick off with a meeting in June that will allow installations to discuss and showcase how they plan to achieve their goals.

There’s only one problem, USAG Grafenwoehr hasn’t added waste to a landfill since April of 1999.

According to USAG Grafenwoehr Waste Management Officer Helmut Bueller a German law was passed in late 1998 that prohibited anyone from adding to a landfill and since early 1999 the Grafenwoehr military community has been in compliance.

That’s not to say it was easy.

“We have a lot of units that come to Grafenwoehr for training,” Bueller said.  “One of the biggest challenges we had then was that when the units were leaving and they wanted to get rid of any material that was metal, the existing system set up with Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office didn’t work very well because of the paperwork and the hours of operations.   We now have a system where the metal is, with the help of MWR, sold to a local scrap yard and the profits are split between the Garrison and MWR.”

Standard refuge, the kind that can’t be recycled and would normally be added to a landfill is converted to energy at a nearby German incinerator. The heat from this incinerator produces electricity, hot water and steam that are, in turn, used by the residents of U.S. Army Grafenwoehr.