Officials from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will break ground April 8 on a new barracks, a designated green building designed to save energy and human resources.

The 216-bed, three-story structure will incorporate the latest technology in plumbing, heating, air conditioning, insulation, appliances and other features, saving the government money while also providing Soldiers, Sailors and Marines with a safe, state-of-the-art living facility.

Bldg. 421 will have many of the same features used in the construction of Bldg. 419, the barracks building just north and next door to the new barracks.

The difference, said Suzanne Hren, an architect with the JBM-HH Directorate of Public Works, is that building criterion that served as guidelines in 2008 when Bldg. 419 was built are now mandatory and required for Bldg. 421.

Hren said Bldg. 421 will have a silver-level green building rating from the Leadership in Environmental Design, a third party certification program that provides a benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. The federal government has adopted the system, which the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit dedicated to sustainable housing design and construction, says "evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building's life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a 'green building.'"

"There was a more relaxed standard when [Bldg. 419] was built," Hren said. "As of 2010, the LEED silver rating became mandatory. [Bldg. 421] should be of a higher standard." That standard includes input into the assessments of the exterior envelope of the building, the insulation and construction methods.

"There are other rating systems ... but this is the one that's caught on in the United States," Hren said. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings annually consume more than 30 percent of the total energy and more than 60 percent of the total electricity used in the U.S. Furthermore, each day five billion gallons of potable water is used solely to flush toilets.

Hren said there would be automatic sensors on plumbing and lighting fixtures designed to minimize energy consumption. Plumbing fixtures would incorporate low-flow technology. Windows will be insulated glass units, laminated and double paned. The content of carpeting has to meet certain standards and the adhesives that hold it in place must be minimized.

The LEED silver rating dictates the proper care of building materials during construction, ensuring that ductwork set aside on a construction site isn't left exposed. It must be covered and protected from contamination even before it is installed.

Green building certification even anticipates future renovation and dismantlement, identifying components - metal, drywall, carpeting - that can be extracted and recycled.

"It's not just taking things to the nearest landfill to dump," Hren said. "That's bad for communities if you do that. It's bad for the water system. It's expensive for the landfill - throwing [away] all that construction material."

"The ultimate is to get down to zero trash, zero waste," she emphasized.

Meeting green building standards can be more expensive.

"There is a cost, but the cost is generally paid off with the health benefits of workers," Hren said. "Your labor force is the most expensive part of running a business, making sure that your work force is productive. If you're putting more up front into the building but it's helping your labor force 30 years down the road [it makes a difference]."

Also, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, "Studies of workers in green buildings report productivity gains of up to 16 percent, including reductions in absenteeism and improved work quality." The $19 million building is scheduled to be completed in spring 2011.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16