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NEWS | March 9, 2017

Camp Pendleton announced as winner of Secretary of the Army Environmental Award

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Camp Pendleton is one of five installations recognized as a winner in the Fiscal Year 2016 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards, earning top honors in the Cultural Resources Management – Small Installation Category. The awards are the highest honor in the field of environmental science and sustainability conferred by the Army.

“Camp Pendleton is designated as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so we must balance maintaining the structures of the installation so we stay right with the preservationists but at the same time taking an aggressive approach in developing the installation to support training,” explained Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “What this award tells me is that we have a team who are proving themselves to be adept and bridging the gap between what is required to retain the preservation status but moving in a very deliberate fashion to update the capabilities of the installation from the 1940s to today.”

These winners will represent the Army at the Secretary of Defense competition later this year.

“These awardees clearly demonstrate how fully engaged leadership, coupled with sound environmental practices and innovative approaches, can directly enhance Army readiness,” said Mr. Eugene Collins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health in the awards announcement published Feb. 28, 2017.

Camp Pendleton is a state-owned, 328-acre installation which provides training facilities for National Guard units, as well as all other Department of Defense, active duty and reserve units as well as public safety organizations. It houses the Virginia Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy, the Virginia Air National Guard’s 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, the Virginia Army National Guard’s 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and Troop A and Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 183rd Cavalry Regiment.

The post features a multi-purpose training facility, administrative buildings, conference facilities, barracks, classrooms, dining facilities, a live-fire qualification range and nine different virtual trainers as well as a chapel, fitness center, distance learning center, wooded training areas, helipad, land navigation course, airfield damage repair training site, beach and amphibious landing site.

According to the award submission packet, “the Cultural Resources Management program of the Virginia Army National Guard is dedicated to the conservation of all historic resources across the state’s training sites and armories, but the preservation of the past never stops them from engaging with the cutting edge of technology and modernization to achieve that goal.”

At Camp Pendleton, the Cultural Resources Management program has been essential to large-scale transformations to achieve energy resiliency and security that is critical to the readiness of the Virginia Army Guard and all other military branches in the area. CRM involvement in these projects is vital because Camp Pendleton is listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district and includes several contributing cultural landscapes.

“Whether the aim is simplifying the regulatory burden or revolutionizing the modern capabilities of the installation, the Virginia Army National Guard CRM program remains oriented to future needs without sacrificing respect for the past,” the packet reads.

The submission packet also explains how the CRM program at Camp Pendleton has vigorously pursued program goals in support of both historic preservation and the Virginia Army Guard’s energy modernization initiatives.

“The projects at the installation are exceptional for the way that CRM and Sustainability operations have been seamlessly blended to meet all the Virginia Army Guard’s operational and compliance needs,” the packet reads. “Camp Pendleton is in the process of becoming an ‘island’ of energy resiliency capable of supporting the Virginia Beach military complex in the event of manmade or natural disaster. While such an undertaking would be a challenge anywhere, it is especially complex at Camp Pendleton because of its NRHP status. The CRM program and Sustainability staff have coordinated extensively to ensure this transformation’s success.”

The CRM program recently completed an archaeological survey of the training site to allow for the infrastructure changes required while also retrofitting historic buildings with modern systems to achieve the Virginia Army Guard’s energy conservation objectives. One of the most important efforts has been establishment of a new Programmatic Agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office and theAdvisory Council on Historic Preservation, prepared with guidance from National Guard Bureau, the PA was fully signed in December 2016.

The PA, an effort six years in the making, creates an alternative process for complying with Section 106 requirements that is tailor-made to the needs of the VAARNG. It dramatically streamlines the CRM oversight and consultation processes for historic resources, including the entirety of Camp Pendleton’s structures. Notably, a 2016 external EPAS inspection noted that the CRM program is meeting every goal stated in the VAARNG’s Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan.

“To fully represent the achievements of the CRM program over the past two years, the scale of transformation on Camp Pendleton must be understood,” the packet reads. “As a critical component of the Virginia Beach military complex, the State Military Reservation, Camp Pendleton is the epicenter of a massive effort to establish energy security and resiliency. The Virginia Army National Guard has commenced the formal investment-grade audit to establish a micro-grid at the site, intended to take the installation off-grid while slashing energy consumption by nearly half. A solar array is also currently being constructed on an installation parking lot.”

This effort is of course complicated by the need to preserve Camp Pendleton as an historic district, the packet explained. For several years, in addition to clearing the path for the energy infrastructure development, the Sustainability and CRM staffs have collaborated on upgrading the WWII-era buildings to be energy efficient by installing new HVAC, lighting, insulation, roofs, windows, and more while still maintaining aesthetic integrity. Currently, this joint team is working with local power companies and consulting with the SHPO to remove electrical poles and power lines in order to bury utilities for greater security. This effort also supports Dominion Power’s project to erect offshore wind towers as a renewable energy source.

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