Green building
The White Sands Missile Range gas station has been renovated to increase its energy efficiency. The energy saving improvements are part of a larger plan to reduce energy usage on post.

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M., July 1, 2010 - White Sands Missile Range has taken an active role in building energy efficient buildings on post as part of their Energy Savings Program, without breaking the bank at the Directorate of Public Works.

The most recent example of this is the makeover given to the Gas station, Building 270, along Rock Island Avenue. "For many years the Gas station had been an eye sore and in need of desperate, severe repairs," said Vicente "Chente" Romero, DPW civil engineer. "It really needed a complete makeover."

More buildings are expected to receive similar makeovers in the coming years as part of the Energy Savings Program. With the help of Energy Conservation funds WSMR hopes to receive, DPW could soon get started on several planned energy conservation projects.

The DPW Engineering Division prepares and constantly updates a five-year painting plan for execution. However, budget constraints usually limit this plan. Fortunately, that was not the case in FY09. Funding to paint buildings was available, making it possible to pursue the Gas station project. Working closely with MICC and the painting contractor, DPW was able to develop the project, award the contract and execute the repair effort.

Romero said Building 270 was selected for a makeover because of its size. The building also has an independent electric meter and DPW had a record of how much energy the building used each month.

According to building occupants, it was hard to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The original building was small, but throughout the years additions were made to the original building design.

The Gas station's severely cracked and peeling exterior was replaced with a clean modern energy saving look. The decision to renovate the building started with the intent to repaint the building as part of DPW's repainting program, which has been in existence several years. When Romero, who manages the program, and Rich Willard, DPW architect and project designer, inspected the building, they found that a simple repainting would not fix the problems. "We decided that we couldn't just repaint it because it had a lot of cracks, openings, and deteriorating fill-ins that allowed for the nesting of vermin. (There were also problems with) the air infiltration, and a noticeable substantial amount of energy loss. But the most important factor of all, an unsightly image. It was decided that a new approach was needed, which would give the old building a new look and at the same time establish an energy savings program," Willard said.

Problems with the building just kept surfacing after tests confirmed that that the exterior had been painted with a lead based paint. As a result of innovative project management, it was decided that a better and cost savings solution was needed in the form of an exterior insulation and finish system, EIFS, a kind of insulated synthetic stucco system that "wraps" around a building and generates a modern commercial architectural look. The EIFS is essentially a layer of foam secured to the exterior of the building, then reinforced with a cement base coat, embedded fiberglass mesh, and then a textured finish coat sealed with paint that would serve several purposes. It would seal the exterior of the building, covering the cracks and holes, and encapsulating the lead paint behind a tough weather resistant paneling. It would also add further insulation to the building, which would help reduce the energy costs of heating and cooling the building. "It's like putting a jacket on the building, so it's about a 4-6 increase in the buildings R value," said Craig Collins, DPW's energy manager, explaining that the R value is a measurement of how resistant a building is to losing heat or cold. Gas station employees are already benefiting from the effects of the improved insulation. "It's definitely a lot cooler, and we're getting a lot of compliments on the new look of the building," said Jeff Chavez, an AAFES employee who works at the gas station.

The renovations also included the installation of more lights on the building, including extra lights above the front of the building near the vending machines, and recess lighting around the building. Jane Hickok, WSMR AAFES manager, said that besides the visible amazing transformation, she has received several positive comments from customers about the new canopy lighting. "They said how much better the lighting is at night and early morning. They feel it has made (the gas station) a safer and more secure environment for them when they pump gas at these times," Hickok said.

While the gas station is the first building to benefit from this improvement, DPW's Engineering Division and WSMR's Garrison leadership, plan to use this new approach on other buildings on the installation. They want to give old buildings a more modern look, increase the useful years of aging facilities, and most important of all, create a partnership to establish WSMR as an active member of the "Green Team". Also, as part of the new energy savings approach, Electronic "Smart" meters were installed before the gas station was renovated. These meters record the amount of energy required to heat and cool the facility, which in turn establishes a history record. Now that the renovations are complete, new data will be collected and compared to the old data to determine how much energy the added insulation saves. "The fuel station is basically a test element," said Sam Morris, DPW's Engineering Services division chief. Morris hopes that the new approach and new data collected will allow DPW to apply for additional Energy Savings funding, to add EIFS to some of WSMR's larger office buildings such as buildings 124 and 126. "We intend to use those buildings as a kind of model project to compete for (Army energy conservation investment program) funds," Morris said.

In the meantime, older buildings like Building 1510, DPW's Headquarters, and Building 1782, the Public Affairs Office, are already being scheduled for a makeover. Plans are in the conceptual phase to give those buildings exterior modernization with EIFS applied to their aged exteriors in FY11. While energy saving work on those buildings is planned, such as was done with the gas station, additional detail work on the exterior of these buildings will be done to help make the buildings look more modern and to help improve entry focus to help direct customers to the correct entry doors. "It's (DPW Director) T.A. Ladd's long range goal to spruce up the post and bring it up out of the 1950s, and give it a more modern look, while enhancing the energy efficiency," Morris said. He added that part of this plan involves generating modern architectural images that still comply with Army regulations and the local Installation Design Guide on building esthetics and coloration. "This is truly a team effort between the management, project manager, architect, customer and contractor, Meraz Painting, Inc. One of the most important factors is seeing your conceptual ideas and design come to life," Romero said. "Without Juan Najera and his crew at Visual Information I wouldn't have ever achieved that. I was very impressed with their work (creating the seal above the door of the gas station), with their "out of the box ideas", and going the extra mile to get things done. I commend them for their great work," Romero said.

Page last updated Mon July 12th, 2010 at 15:59