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Kadena employs sustainable, decisive airpower in the Pacific

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Yosselin Campos
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

Kadena Air Base, Japan recently earned the 2023 Secretary of Defense Environmental Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation Award for outstanding achievements in the Department of Defense environmental programs. 

The Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation Award recognizes efforts by a DoD non-industrial installation with a measurable focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy practices, greenhouse gas reduction efforts, procurement of sustainable goods and services, waste diversion and efforts towards energy resilience. 

“This is the first time a USAF overseas installation has ever won this environmental award,” explained Shawn Williams, 718th Civil Engineer Squadron installation manager. “This showcases our commitment to employing sustainable practices and being good neighbors to our host nation while we continue to project decisive airpower to ensure regional stability and security.”

The 2023 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards cycle encompasses an achievement period from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2022. Sustainable practices ensure the DoD protects valuable resources critical to mission success.

“During this timeframe, Kadena contracted a private energy company to implement a four-part Energy Savings Performance Contract to boost the installation’s mission-critical energy resiliency, emphasized procurement of green materials by implementing several sustainable programs and facilitated the removal of 23,000 pounds of ozone-depleting substances in classes I and II,” said Dacia Westerlund, 718th CES chief of environmental. 

In addition to making the 18th Wing more sustainable, the environmental team also takes great strides to maintain strong relationships between Kadena AB and host communities through their conservation and preservation efforts. 

“Prior to starting any projects, we conduct cultural assets surveys because it’s our responsibility to safeguard many of the historical and cultural assets found throughout the installation such as tombs, shrines, village sites and WWII-related sites,” Westerlund said. “We also conduct surveys to identify species of plants, corals and wildlife in the Kadena and Okuma Recreation Center boundaries to ensure protection of the native species found on Okinawa.”

While the Sustainable, Non-Industrial Installation Award is an environmental award, Williams stressed that it is an installation wide award. 

“This award was very much a team effort from various units across Kadena,” Williams said. “From the 18th Contracting Squadron who helps us execute projects, the engineers who design sustainable facilities and every member of our environmental cross functional teams to the Airmen executing the mission — we all made this happen.”

High levels of command support from the 18th Wing increases the visibility of sustainability objectives and targets throughout the Pacific and promotes continual improvement.

“We have amazing leadership here that takes environmental concerns seriously and is supportive of our sustainability efforts,” Williams said. “They provide us with the resources necessary for us to focus on making Kadena more resilient.”

To learn more about the sustainability efforts Kadena took to earn the award, please visit: