11 May 2011

Representatives from Fort Detrick, local government, academia, health services, not-for-profits, and business gathered here May 6, to share best practices in sustainability while forging partnerships to build a Sustainable Frederick.

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Meeting brings region together under theme of Sustainability

Fort Detrick and Frederick County, Md. partnered to host a regional Sustainability Conference May 2.  The meeting was the first in what is planned to be a long-ranging coalition to foster comprehensive sustainability practices throughout local and federal government, local academia, health care providers, and community businesses of all sizes.  Attendees included Frederick County, City Of Frederick, Hood College and Frederick County Community College, Frederick Memorial Health, and a number of regional businesses and non-profit organizations.  The group of 45 people spent the Monday morning discussing and developing ideas on how to continually improve the greater Frederick County area into a Sustainable Region of Excellence.  

The group discussed potential partnership opportunities through a number of on-going projects and future plans.  This meeting connected the region’s leading and influential organizations, including Fort Detrick, in the hopes of partnering through best practices and capitalizing on lessons learned from previous and ongoing programs and projects.  These include working with community partners to ensure Fort Detrick has the most up to date information to make informed decisions about using energy and other resources, planning for workforce development and continuity, reviewing business processes, and ensuring that we are doing the right things, doing things right, and identifying what we are missing as a community.  People’s ideas are the key to having this information and Fort Detrick ensures workforce ideas and programs are included through initiatives like Sustainable Strategic Planning, Safety programs, and Customer Service programs where the voice of the customer and workforce are incorporated into the planning process.  

Col. Judith Robinson, Garrison Commander, stated "If there is one thing I want to leave behind, I want a total culture of sustainability at Fort Detrick”.  This culture stretches outside the lines of commonly perceived sustainability programs to include a larger focus on workforce training and development, volunteering, business process reviews, infrastructure maintenance, development and design, customer service, and quality of life initiatives for Soldiers, Families, and Civilians, as well as traditional environmental stewardship and conservation.  Robinson discussed the importance of connecting all of these pieces and regional partnerships to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible to build a sustainable future for the region.  

This meeting was just the beginning, on-going conversations between attendees, who had previously not met, are helping community organizations improve how they operate, with discussions taking place on waste management and energy conservation as well as how to include workforce initiatives as part of sustainability efforts.  

Fort Detrick’s sustainability efforts of empowering employees through its Sustainable Strategic Plan have already moved beyond the traditional environmental areas of sustainability to include a comprehensive approach to business and life activities.  The plan captures the traditional sustainability areas such as recycling, greenhouse gas reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, including efforts to achieve Net Zero returns for energy, waste, and water, but also reaches beyond these to include a customer focus, analyzing results to improve the way we do business, improving processes to be more effective and efficient and planning for the workforce of the future.  

Fort Detrick is reaching out to the future workforce through a number of programs that engage high school and college student in the areas of science, engineering, and mathematics, while expanding to trades and specialized infrastructure development and internships.  These programs ensure a sustainable workforce of tomorrow with specialized skills to meet the demands the numerous and diverse National Security missions residing on Fort Detrick and in the Frederick community.  

Through Frederick County’s Sustainability Commission, the group plans to continue the conversations and gather regularly to further improve teamwork and partnerships throughout the region to build a Sustainable Frederick.

Posted by PAIO

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