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February 10, 2012

News

LEED program helps ensure new buildings more energy efficient

New construction at Fort McCoy implementing the standards of a nationwide environmental rating and certification system helps conserve the energy used by those facilities, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Brian Nohr, the USACE District Sustainable Design and Development and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) coordinator, said the LEED program provides benchmarks or credits for designing, constructing and operating a facility. LEED standards were established by the U.S. Green Building Council through member collaboration and agreement. The program includes site makeup, building materials, water and energy efficiency as well as indoor environmental quality.
PHOTO: Employees from Joint Venture DeArteaga/Miron work on the new Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy classroom project. Photo by Rob Schuette
Employees from Joint Venture DeArteaga/Miron, Joint Venture LLC, of Neenah, Wis., work on the new Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy classroom project at Fort McCoy. The $7.8 million U.S. Army Reserve Major Construction funding contract will build a two-story, 37,000-square-foot classroom facility. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Each location has prerequisite credits that must be performed, and in Fort McCoy’s case the Army has mandated several credits, he said. But the credit system also allows the owner, designers and contractors to pick many of the credits they want to implement. Some of the credits can work together to build on each other to improve the building performance and achieve a higher certification. The system encourages an integrated design philosophy and greater communication between design and construction teams, he said.

In addition, contractors are encouraged to find innovative ways to achieve LEED credits, which also can have a return on project costs. For example, using digital plans on touch-screen monitors can give contractors more complete as-built projects with the information and equipment being useful for future projects. Finding ways to recycle and use materials often provides a benefit on cost offsets for things like selling scrap material.

“The biggest incentive (for contractors to use the LEED program) is it is a marketing tool,” Nohr said. “The contractor can say ‘I built my facilities to these standards and to this level of performance.’ It helps him get his next job.”

The funding to incorporate the LEED work is offset in the form of energy savings, Nohr said. The payback schedule of using the updated energy technology allows the government to recoup its investment in the credits over a set period of time. This usually is calculated through life cycle cost analysis, and the savings can be huge in the life span of a typical building.

“For the government, the LEED system is a great third-party audit and review of the contract to ensure a quality facility,” he added.

Roy Brewer, Fort McCoy USACE engineer, said all new facilities being built at Fort McCoy with USACE oversight incorporate LEED standards. The LEED system helps make the new buildings, which are welcome additions to Fort McCoy’s infrastructure, more energy efficient. Projects under way include the Annual Training/Mobilization barracks, the Network Enterprise Center, and the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell classroom construction.

Liane Haun, chief, Master Planning Division, Directorate of Public Works, said Fort McCoy tries to have contractors incorporate LEED standards into projects whenever feasible. Because of Fort McCoy’s rural location, its climate, and the difficulty of using renewable energy sources, it isn’t as easy for McCoy to take full advantage of LEED standards as compared to an urban location, such as Fort Carson, Colo. Some LEED standards/prerequisites are not practical for Fort McCoy, but must be done to qualify for project funding.

For example, Fort McCoy benefits and can help meet its energy reduction goal of 3 percent a year by installing low-flow water fixtures in a facility as required to help with water efficiencies, Haun said.

Other mandated improvements, however, might include having a bike rack to promote people riding their bicycles to work and installing a shower so they could shower after riding their bicycles. Haun said both are good goals, but impractical in a rural location, such as Fort McCoy.

“So we potentially lose some of our project (size) because funds are being allocated for things we wouldn’t be likely to use,” Haun said. Fort McCoy will begin to learn how well LEED standards work in this area with the completed construction of the NEC project later this year, she added.

Michael J. Kelley, the chief engineer of the Energy-Utilities Branch for the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works, said the LEED program initiatives included in the projects will help the installation meet its goal in energy reduction to reduce its annual energy usage 3 percent from the fiscal year 2003 baseline.

Nohr said many energy sources are considered/available in the LEED program. Among the categories are photovoltaic (solar panels), wind, heat recovery from air-to-air systems or from waste water, geothermal, and new generation central heat plants that can consume many types of renewable fuels. The manufacturers of mechanical and electrical systems also are becoming very focused on efficiency.

The efficient use of daylight through energy-efficient windows with lights on automatic dimmers is extremely important in reducing emergency consumption and cooling loads. Nohr said the LEED program also encourages the use of natural ventilation possibilities to conserve energy.

For more information about the LEED program, visit the website http://www.usgbc.org/

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