Five years have passed since the Army began requiring all new construction to earn validation with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Army’s goal is to meet the standard for LEED Silver certification
The 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado was selected in 2013 to support the new 4th Combat Aviation Brigade. To support this new unit, over $700 million in new facilities have gone toward housing the troops, maintaining the unit’s aircraft and mission supporting functions.
With the surge of LEED-required construction, Fort Carson has one of the highest concentrations of LEED certified buildings in the country. The construction of LEED facilities is not a new concept at this installation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District has built and LEED certified 82 buildings. While silver is the minimum acceptable rating, more than half have earned higher ratings, with 39 achieving LEED Gold certification and three attaining the maximum rating of LEED Platinum.
The most recent LEED Platinum certification was in December 2015 for the 4th CAB’s 404th Aviation Support Battalion’s new maintenance hangar.
“Originally, Department of Defense directives only required projects be LEED Silver certifiable, but not actually certified through the USGBC. Fort Carson was the first place in the Army to start certifying projects before it was required,” said Brian Nohr, Omaha District’s Sustainability Coordinator. “When it became a requirement, our contractors had a friendly competition to achieve higher certification levels. Now, half of our projects at Fort Carson are LEED Gold or Platinum certified, which is really commendable, and we are getting better quality, more permanent, and more sustainable facilities, which is the intent of the certification standard, and that’s a good thing.”
While getting LEED Gold and Platinum certification is nice for project managers, the greatest benefit is to the tax payer, because these certifications translate into future savings in energy and water costs, and they also play a part in strengthening national security.
“The Federal Government recognizes sustainability is important for our security and overall health of the nation,” said Nohr. “The Army’s Net Zero goal is to ensure a building or installation can stay powered and continue its mission in an emergency situation in an electrical grid goes down. That’s a big reason why we are trying to get all of our facilities to Net Zero: to eventually be ready, in the event of a power-grid failure, to be able to respond and continue the mission.”
On the contractor side of the hangar’s construction, Project Manager Cody Hoff of Jacobs Engineering Building and Infrastructure office in Fort Worth, Texas, completed the design subcontract for the hangar’s main contractor, Hensel Phelps Construction.
“LEED Silver certifiable was our contract requirement because of Fort Carson’s need for Net Zero compliance by 2020, meeting these goals put the project at LEED Platinum certification at no additional cost to the government,” said Hoff. “As the design build team we worked together to review USGBC credits from the design-build phase, and we achieved the ones we said we would. Bonus credits came from the USGBCs ergonomic scores that account for location.
“Forty percent of the building’s power was offset by a photo-voltaic solar panel array, and we had a 57 percent energy reduction prior to the PV implementation, that puts us at 105 percent under energy usage.”
Scott Clark, Energy Manager Fort Carson Directorate of Public Works Efforts is involved with the Army’s Net Zero program.
“Fort Carson was selected as a pilot site for Net Zero in 2011 … National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted an analysis of Fort Carson and found that the available technology could almost completely eliminate nonrenewable energy use although it may not be cost effective.”
The USACE project manager confirms that in the USGBC’s credit system, the greatest portion of the 4th CAB ASB hangar’s LEED Platinum certification came from energy efficiency and onsite energy production.
“We came up with new evaluation criteria when selecting contractors,” said USACE Project Manager Jimmy Harding. “Contractors were given higher evaluations if they proposed energy savings and onsite energy production. We made those the most important selection criteria.”