Gaining irreversible momentum — that’s what Fort Carson hopes to accomplish with this year’s sustainability conference.
The Army post has been sponsoring the conference for five years, and is the military leader in sustainability projects, said Hall Alguire, an expert on sustainability at the post.
“Fort Carson adopted a sustainability plan because it just makes sense for meeting the mission requirements in the future,” he said. “We can train more, if we lose less energy, less water and move efficiency levels up. Fort Carson wants to be a great training base in 30 years, so we have to focus on goals, and protecting our resources.”
The post is inviting the community to attend and explore ways that Fort Carson can conserve resources and be a “good neighbor,” said sustainability expert Brigetta Tingley.
The conference is schedule for Nov. 8-9 at the Phil Long Expo Center.
This year, the conference is trying something new: an exhibit hall that features the latest technologies that save energy, reduce waste streams and improve efficiency.
“We expect we’ll have about 40 vendors,” Tingley said. “We’ll probably have about 400 people attend. It’s important to note that just because the military is sponsoring this; it isn’t strictly for the military. It’s for everyone who’s interested in sustainability and increasing efficiency.”
The Catamount Institute, a Colorado Springs nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental issues, is participating in the conference. Executive Director Carol Bruce-Fritz is kicking off the two-day event.
She and the Catamount Institute’s founder, Howard Drossman, say industries can save money — and make money — by switching to renewable energy.
“It’s folklore that it will hurt the economy,” said Drossman, a chemistry professor at Colorado College. “There are opportunities to spur investment, to save money. Look at Shell Oil, they’ve reinvented themselves as an energy company, not an oil company.”
Businesses in Colorado can create the impetus for more energy innovation, Bruce-Fritz believes.
And one step toward creating that interest is the annual sustainability conference.
“Oil is holding us hostage,” Drossman said. “It’s a weak economy that relies on outside sources for most of its energy. And the resources are going to get tighter as China and India increase their demand. We don’t control our energy supplies — that’s a major problem.”
The Sustainability Conference will focus on energy and water conservation, air pollution and solid waste disposal.
Fort Carson hopes to reduce its air pollution and solid waste to nothing during the next 20 years.
“We want to reduce waste across the board,” Alguire said. “It’s just another example of how it will benefit all of us. There’s an economic case to be made as well. Business should be interested in doing this — it saves money.”
The conference starts with an icebreaker and a break-out workshop.
The workshops during the next day focus on waste, transportation, regional environment and smart growth.
“The idea is to continue sustainability projects regardless of who the leaders are,” Alguire said. “We will have gained momentum toward reaching these goals that can’t be slowed when the community leaders, or the leaders at Fort Carson change.”
The cost to attend is $25 and covers the ice breaker, lunch and all workshops. Wednesday, the program starts at 3:30 and lasts until 7 p.m. On Thursday, the workshop begins at 8:30 a.m.