Corps of Engineers builds sustainable distribution center for DLA
August 8, 2011
GERMERSHEIM, Germany (Army News Service, August 8, 2011) -- Change is in the air at Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Europe. This summer, not only does the organization welcome a new commander, it’s also preparing to occupy a new, environmentally friendly distribution center.
The 250,000-square-foot Logistics Distribution Center Europe, or LDCE, is nearing completion. The $25 million construction project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District, will enable Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA, Distribution to more effectively support warfighters throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Upon completion in early 2012, all DLA Distribution Europe offices and supply chain operations will be consolidated under one roof.
The new facility will enable DLA Distribution to combine operations such as receiving, storing, issuing, cross-docking and transportation explained Lt. Col. Andre J. Baldanza, DLA Distribution Europe commander. Combining several outlying warehouses into one building will help the organization gain efficiencies associated with co-located functions.
“We will be able to receive, store, and transport all of the items that go through DLA Europe more efficiently,” said Baldanza.
Not only will the new facility be a one-stop shop for daily operations, it will also increase the capacity of the distribution center.
“Right now we have nine bays and (in the new facility) we will have 26,” Baldanza noted. “Storage will be right there where the docks are. We will pick, pack and ship right from our consolidated facility. Everything will be closer.”
The additional space and consolidation of operations will increase DLA’s efficiency and eliminate multiple handling of materials. Providing items like repair parts, barrier and construction materials, and clothing and textiles to the warfighter in a timely manner is a key part of DLA’s mission.
“We will be able to get items to the warfighter faster,” said Baldanza. “We worked with engineers and architects to design the building to meet our mission. We are building to industry standard as opposed to trying to fit our mission into an existing structure.”
Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, and DLA worked together to incorporate a variety of energy-efficient features into the new facility. According to Baldanza, the distribution center will be almost entirely self-sustainable.
One of the environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions that USACE designed into the facility is a biomass heating system, which was selected over more traditional boilers. An advantage of the biomass system is that it will allow the distribution center to generate nearly 100 percent of its heating onsite.
“We have two boilers that are biomass fed. These two boilers will provide all of the heating for the facility,” said Baldanza.
This innovative green technology is relatively new to USACE and the LDCE has “one of the first biomass heating systems being utilized by the Army in Europe,” according to David Scott, USACE project engineer.
Biomass heating is only one of the features helping to make the new DLA distribution center sustainable.
“Solar panels, radiant heat flooring and energy-saving lighting will enable the facility to save money,” noted Baldanza.
Solar panels will line the roof of the LDCE to capture sunlight and generate electricity. Eventually, the DLA would like to add enough photovoltaic panels to satisfy all of the electrical needs of the building.
“We will use solar panels to gain daily energy for the building. They will provide up to 330,000 kilowatts of electricity annually,” said Daniela Heath, DLA Distribution Europe facility manager.
Radiant heat flooring is another unique feature of the building. A grid of piping has been placed under the concrete floor allowing hot water to be pumped throughout the warehouse. Hot water will heat the facility, keeping workers more comfortable during chilly winter months. The radiant heating will also save on energy expenditure and costs.
In addition, the design of the LDCE provides for copious amounts of natural light through the use of enormous skylights. The natural light allows the facility to consume less electricity and is seen as another bonus in the building compared to the current facilities, which use fluorescents. The current DLA warehouses do not let in natural light; all light is entirely artificial, explained Scott.
All of the sustainable environmental solutions incorporated into this building have been carefully thought out and planned by DLA Distribution and USACE.
"We feel very blessed because we were able to build to our specifications. The corps played a definite role in enabling us to do that. They took every suggestion we had and incorporated it into the design. From my experience I don’t think that happens often (with other construction agents)," said Baldanza.
In fact, DLA employees who will be working in the completed facility were given an opportunity to provide input and suggestions to USACE during the design phase.
“This building, when opened, will have a lot of ideas from folks who are actually working the floors of our warehouses,” said Baldanza.
As this project nears completion, DLA Distribution employees look forward to the day they can occupy the new facility. The staff routinely looks out their windows, checking on construction progress across the street.
“So far there are no delays and we are on track,” said Heath.
DLA Distribution Europe is very pleased with the construction progress to date and the team effort that has been put forth in making the LDCE a reality, she explained.
“The Corps of Engineers has been very supportive from the beginning. They were there to help us with problems, to keep construction on schedule and to answer questions,” Heath added. “We are very pleased with this team.”