1 BCT HQ earns 'Gold' sustainable construction certification
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Soldiers and staff assigned to the newly minted 1st Brigade Combat Team headquarters, which also houses six and battalion headquarters, will work in a first of its kind facility once fully staffed next summer.

The 1 BCT headquarters, completed in August 2008, is the first facility on an Army installation to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold rating for new construction, according to Marie Coleman, communications coordinator with the USGBC. The Gold LEED rating certification was announced in early December.

Gold LEED® is the second highest of the four ratings - Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum - in the internationally-recognized sustainable building standards of USGBC. The LEED system "verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return" of rated facilities.

Building sustainable facilities in the Army today merges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' traditional facility life-cycle standard of 50 years with the modern military construction sustainability aspects of energy efficiency, water conservation, reuse of materials and occupant health and comfort.

"It is only common sense to pursue design and construction elements that will save resources, lower costs and provide an overall better facility for the Soldier," said Maj. Mark Himes, Fort Carson Corps of Engineers liaison said of building sustainably. "I believe it is our responsibility to lead the way for other government agencies and civilian industries to pursue sustainable construction projects."

The U.S. Army initially focused on sustainable construction by implementing a Sustainable Project Rating Tool in 2001, which was its own rating system for sustainable construction. Beginning in fiscal year 2008, the Army got behind the private sector standard bearer for sustainable construction ratings, USGBC, and mandated all new military construction projects be designed to their Silver LEED rating standard. Silver LEED ratings are also being targeted for the renovation of existing buildings.

The benefits of pursuing LEED certification for a new facility are several fold, said Matt Ellis, the Fort Carson Corps of Engineers Restationing Office resident engineer. It validates that Army sustainable construction efforts are "walking the walk, not just talking the talk". Knowing up front that a project is being slated for LEED certification also provides a heads up for contractors and designers to ensure their work will meet LEED standards.

A LEED rating is achieved by pursuing points for various design and construction aspects of a project. As an example, points are achieved for water-conserving devices such as low-flow sinks, water-less urinals, etc. The more points achieved in the various aspects of a building, the higher the rating certified. A Gold rating requires between 39-51 points.

The 140,000-square-foot headquarters, designed for approximately 600 occupants, was originally scoped to be Silver LEED certified. However, additional points were incorporated during the design build process and the Corps of Engineers decided to fund submission of the facility for a Gold rating certification.

Through "green" building construction efforts, Fort Carson reaps the additional benefits of positively impacting other sustainability goals including increasing sustainable procurement efforts, saving energy and water utilities costs, reducing toxic emissions into the air and alleviating traffic congestion by developing areas in a fashion that promotes walking.

The 1 BCT headquarters was constructed with an orientation to maximize the use of day lighting from the sun. The building's design provides greater exterior window exposure so that all interior spaces can benefit from natural daylight, ventilation and beneficial views. Environmentally-friendly carpeting, paints and adhesives were used in the building to make it safer for occupants.

The company operations buildings were co-located with unit motorpools in the surrounding 1 BCT complex of facilities so Soldiers can walk instead of drive between the two locations. Additionally, barracks and a dining facility currently under construction are located near unit and headquarters operations to provide a complete living and working environment and encourage walking.

One of the significant cost-saving efficiencies put in place during the project was purchasing recycled-content, modular furniture provided and installed by the building contractor. Using a single contractor to install all involved furniture, equipment and hook-ups to power and data networks optimized the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and timing of installation process.

During construction of the $35.6 million facility, approximately 32 percent of the construction materials came from recycled constituents, according to the Corps of Engineers. Through waste management efforts during the project, 400 tons of construction waste were recycled and/or salvaged.

Direct costs of constructing the 140,000 square foot headquarters building are estimated at $35.6 million. Sustainable features of the facility are estimated to achieve a decrease of 31 percent in energy used, which is anticipated to save approximately $109,830 per year. Low-flow water fixtures are anticipated to reduce water use by 56 percent translating into a water savings of 2,887,511 gallons per year, said Himes.

The installation leadership understands and supports the need for sustainable construction on Fort Carson. "Constructing sustainable facilities that are much more energy efficient means that we at Fort Carson are being good stewards of tax payer dollars. We can all benefit from 'going green'," said Director of Public Works Hal Alguire.

LEED design construction ratings also are available for projects including existing buildings; commercial interiors; core and shells of facilities; schools, healthcare and retail; neighborhood development (in pilot phase); and homes.