As the doors on the new Ireland Army Health Clinic are scheduled to open in mid-January, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say Fort Knox is getting more than it paid for.

The building recently earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Gold certification for fulfilling the requirements of the Green Building Rating System - considered a first for all Fort Knox buildings.

Engineers at the Corps of Engineers and the Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works said the state-of-the-art design puts the new clinic in a class all its own.

"The LEED is the number one energy and environmental metric for facilities and construction right now," said Master Planner Ashley Ryan, with DPW. "This [LEED certification] is the metric that [measures] energy efficiency. This is exceptional for an Army post that strives to be energy efficient and self-sustaining.

"We're known for our efficiency, and we've reached a new level of efficiency here."

Ryan said most Army building construction is funded to meet LEED-Silver certifiable standards.

"Silver is the Army standard for new construction because we're trying to have energy efficient buildings that are easier on the environment and that promote a healthier lifestyle," Ryan said. "[While] we try to get our buildings as energy-efficient as possible, we don't try [for] the [Gold] award because the Army doesn't have the manpower to pursue that or the allotted funds to pay for it. There is a big jump in cost to get it."

Nicholas Bibelhauser, a resident engineer with the Corps of Engineers, said the decision to go beyond the standard was the contractor's.

"[M.A.] Mortenson Construction Company took it on themselves to go above and beyond, and they attained [LEED] Gold on the same budget that we paid them to get [LEED] Silver certifiable," Bibelhauser said. "There's a checklist of nearly 100 available LEED points [that contractors] might improve on, from energy efficiency, water use reduction, using recycled materials or using [heat reduction roofing]. They took the project from LEED-Silver, which is 50 points, to LEED-Gold, which is 60 points. They actually got 62 points."

He said that sets the standard high for other contractors.

"They were able to do it on their first submission. That's never been done before, and they're definitely going to promote that," Bibelhauser said. "It's why we celebrate an accomplishment like this. Many contractors are looking to go above and beyond to promote their companies. Now, we've [had] someone get the LEED-Gold, and that's the standard to beat."

Bibelhauser said it wasn't just building standards that earned the new facility distinction.

"Several of the point items deal with the process of your construction; how much of your waste did you recycle, or did you purchase your materials from the local economy?" he said. "They've got to provide the documentation for all of it. 'How did you discard this?' 'Where did you get this building material?' It's a huge effort for the construction personnel to track all that."

Ryan said while the Gold standard is the best, the Army is mandated to keep its eye on the bottom line financially.

"There's a lot more complexity to getting LEED qualified than just constructing an efficient building," she said. "We're going after energy efficient insulation and windows and regional materials for all our buildings, but we don't pay to prove it.

"A lot of energy efficiency is about the [taxpayer's] dollar. We're trying to get the energy bill down."