Environmental Programs

Published Dec. 16, 2011
Nation’s Environmental Engineer
As the nation’s environmental engineer, the U.S. Army Corps manages one of the largest federal environmental missions in the United States:
  • Restoring degraded ecosystems
  • Constructing sustainable facilities
  • Regulating waterways and managing natural resources
  • Cleaning up contaminated sites from past military activities

The responsibility to deliver environmentally sound projects and services to our customers touches every program within the Corps: Military Programs, Civil Works and Research and Development.

The scope and magnitude of environmental issues that the Corps addresses make it stand out among other federal agencies. But it is more than one agency can do on its own, it requires working in partnership with others to ensure our environmental efforts meet the needs of the American public.

The Army Corps of Engineers continually partners with other federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to find innovative solutions to challenges that affect everyone: sustainability, climate change, endangered species, environmental cleanup, ecosystem restoration and more.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental professionals are key resources for anyone inside or outside the Army family, wherever and whenever environmental solutions are sought. The breadth and depth of skills found within the workforce gives it the ability to seek the best solution to environmental challenges.

The seven Environmental Operating Principles, or the Corps’ green ethics, are being incorporated into all Corps business lines to achieve a sustainable environment.

Restoring Ecosystems
The Corps works to restore degraded ecosystem structure, function and dynamic processes to a more natural condition:
  • Through large-scale ecosystem restoration projects,  such as the Everglades, the Louisiana Coastal Area, the Missouri River, and the Great Lakes
  • By employing system-wide watershed approaches to problem solving and management for smaller ecosystem restoration projects
Constructing Sustainable Facilities
The Corps designs and builds sustainable communities and facilities for the Department of Defense by:
  • Incorporating sustainable design criteria into military construction and training lands projects
  • Developing techniques to divert military construction waste from landfills through recycling and finding reuse opportunities
  • Minimizing the use of hazardous materials
  • Establishing the Center for the Advancement of Sustainability Innovations, a one-stop shop for sustainable planning and design expertise.
Regulating Waterways and Managing Natural Resources
The Corps regulates work in the nation’s wetlands and waters, with a goal of protecting the aquatic environment while allowing responsible development. The regulatory program works to ensure no net loss of wetlands while issuing about 90,000 permits a year.

With nearly 12 million acres of land and water to manage, the Corps is:
  • Responsible for the well-being of 53 special status species
  • Using Environmental Management Systems to integrate the Environmental Operating Principles into Corps operations to achieve waste reduction, recycling and energy efficiency goals
  • Restoring environmental health to aquatic resources
Cleanup and Protection Activities
Corps environmental cleanup programs focus on reducing risk and protecting human health and the environment in a timely and cost-effective manner. The Corps manages, designs and executes a full range of cleanup and protection activities, such as:
  • Cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous, toxic or radioactive waste or ordnance through the Formerly Used Defense Sites program
  • Cleaning up low-level radioactive waste from the nation’s early atomic weapons program through the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program
  • Supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by cleaning up Superfund sites and working with its Brownfields and Urban Waters programs
  • Supporting the Army through the Base Realignment and Closure Act program
  • Ensuring that facilities comply with federal, state and local environmental laws
  • Conserving cultural and natural resources
Bottom Line
The Corps’ goal for its environmental mission is to restore ecosystem structure and processes, manage our land, resources and construction activities in a sustainable manner, and support cleanup and protection activities efficiently and effectively, all while leaving the smallest footprint behind.

[As of November 2011]