By Charles Melton (USAG Fort Irwin)April 21, 2011
FORT IRWIN,Calif.- The day before the Army celebrates Earth Day, the National Training Center and Fort Irwin marked an ecologically sound first as its $8.5 million state-of-the-art child development center was certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold facility Thursday morning.
LEED certifications are given by the U.S. Green Building Council, which uses site sustainability, water and energy efficiency and innovation in design among other criteria to determine a facility's level of energy and environmental design.
"It's really a phenomenal feat to have the first child development center in the United States Army achieve the gold standard," said NTC/Fort Irwin commanding general Brig. Gen. Terry Ferrell after the ceremony. "Great appreciation goes out to both the contractor and the Corps of Engineers for working so diligently to achieve one the silver status and then actually working to get it to gold."
Ferrell said it's a clear consideration of the emphasis to be environmentally safe, environmentally sound for children, for the post and all of its facilities.
During the invocation, Chaplain (Col.) Joseph Fleury quoted the book of Genesis in the Bible as he spoke about the stewardship involved in the project.
"We are mindful of the book of Genesis as the Lord placed men and women on the earth to take care of it and to be good stewards of all our natural resources," Chaplain Fleury said. "The earth and all its resources are God's creation and they have been given to us in trust, never to waste or abuse, but to cultivate and nurture."
RQ Construction president Mike Patterson used Chaplain Fleury's words to begin explaining the effort involved in making the facility LEED gold certified.
"I love what the chaplain said what this is all about stewardship of the things God has given us to be stewards over," Patterson said, adding that achieving LEED gold certification is a monumental task and a team-oriented task.
Achieving such a high standard requires early involvement by design consultants to identify constraints and brainstorm types of credits because LEED certification is a credit system.
"We were required to deliver silver certification but we saw early on we might able to do more than that," he said. "We targeted 39 credits initially, which would give us LEED gold if we were able to get every credit."
During the design and construction processes additional low-cost or no-cost credits were identified which put the total number of attempted credits at 43, he said.
"We set out to keep gold certification as an option although we were only required to meet silver. Silver was plenty doable," he said. "We were able to outperform the initial goal. We were awarded 42 of the 43 credits."
The child development center is the first certified building for Fort Irwin, he said.
"This is what LEED gold means to facility owners and users. It lowers the impact to the environment from construction. It lowers the maintenance costs through efficient energy and water savings," Patterson said. "The building is safer, healthier for the occupants because no harmful chemicals or materials are allowed to be used in the construction."