MONS, Belgium - When officials turned dirt with five golden shovels to initiate construction on the new NATO Special Operations Headquarters building during a ceremony here Nov. 30, they did more than just break ground.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, NATO Special Operations Headquarters and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District have partnered with Joint Venture Bilfinger Berger Government Services and Besix to construct the $20 million, 55,800 square-foot headquarters building, slated to be the first LEED Silver-certified facility at SHAPE.

"This building is the first to be completely designed and built on SHAPE that adheres to the strict Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design with a silver rating," said Lt. Col. John Drew, Europe District's deputy commander, during the ceremony. "That makes it not only efficient for the employees working inside [the building], but for the environment as well."

LEED is a benchmark certificate program designed to promote a whole-building approach to sustainability in the design, construction and operation of an energy efficient building. When a project receives a Silver rating, it has met or exceeded the required metrics in areas such as water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their environmental impact.

While speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Lt. Gen. Frank Kisner, commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters at SHAPE, emphasized the expertise of the teams responsible for vision and construction of the project.

"There is much symbolism today," said Kisner. "Breaking ground for a headquarters that has been ground breaking in its very nature."

Kisner said NSHQ is symbolic of the way ahead and represents the faith of the alliance and the close partners.

"Our secretary general emphasized an approach that draws on subject matter expertise from all sectors and vectors," said Kisner. "All of these experts are united to succeed in this project."

By summer 2012, the facility will serve as the primary operational support, training and education center for all NATO Special Operations activities. The project includes demolishing an existing parking lot where the new building will stand, and installing new walkways, fire lanes, an access road and all underground utility lines.

According to Kisner, NATO Special Operations Headquarters, which stood up Nov. 22, was created to increase the number of forces that can address the current threats and challenges of the multi-national armed forces.

"NSHQ is aimed at increasing special operations forces ability to train and operate together, and this building improves those capabilities," said Kisner.

In support of the NSHQ mission to maintain and develop an operational command, control and communications, the building is designed to support both secret and non-secure networks that will enable communications with forward deployed NATO special operations forces and support personnel.

"It will be an enormous undertaking with demolition work, construction, fencing and landscaping," said Drew. "It is our goal to complete this project with minimum disruption to SHAPE operation."

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