Environmental office earns international certification

Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***The 415th Base Support Battalion’s Environmental Manage-ment Office proved they were good stewards of the environment by recently becoming the first agency in U.S. Army Europe to earn the International Standard Organization 14001 certification.
This is a three-year certification that is an international standard for environmental management and processes. The environmental office was certified by Dekra, a German environmental agency based in Stuttgart.
“This certification gives credibility to our environmental program,” said Jorge Blanco, director, 415th BSB’s Directorate of Public Works. “That is important because it tells people that we are professionals in the way we handle the environment.”
The Installation Management Activity-Europe, Heidelberg, has directed all USAREUR BSBs to implement an Environmental Management System based on the certification requirements by 2009. However, the 415th BSB commander and managers feel strongly about taking care of our environment so they decided not only to establish the required system, but to also be ISO 14001 certified by April 2005, said Mr. Blanco.
To help the 415th BSB meet this goal, managers and engineers within public works came up with the idea to have the environmental office go through the certification process first.
“At the beginning, we did not know what to do to establish a BSB-wide environmental management system for certification so we decided to start here because our office is relatively small,” Dr. Claudia Weber, an EMO environmental engineer. “Now, we understand the system, the work to be performed and what’s coming up which makes it’s easier for us to assist those who will be involved with the BSB certification.”
The seven-member team in the environmental office took on extra work for almost a year to establish the required EMS that effectively takes care of the environment. They also had to prove that there were processes in place to continuously improve this system.
Specifically, the office created several assessments of environmental impacts of such events as petroleum, oil, lubricants or chemical spills. They developed or improved documentations and even, programs for energy, noise and waste management. This required improving organizational structure, planning, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the ISO environmental policy.
Dr. Willi Bethäuser, a German contractor based out of Bexbach, Germany, is responsible for assisting the 415th BSB agencies to meet the certification criteria. He met with all the directors involved in the BSB certification in April for an overview of the path and method for developing the environmental system.
This certification has become increasingly important in the world of business, said Mr. Blanco. Currently, the United States is ranked fifth in the number of ISO 14001 certified businesses, behind Japan, China, Germany and Spain.
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