5th Group facility receives LEED Gold designation

April 11, 2011

The Fort Campbell Courier, by Megan Locke, Courier staff  

Being first is nothing new for Fort Campbell.

Add building construction to the list of firsts after the new 5th Special Forces Group Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold designation in March. The designation marks the first LEED Gold certified building at Fort Campbell.

Construction completed in August 2010, nearly 10 months after breaking ground in October 2009 on the two 12,110 square foot buildings.

The Gold designation is a level higher than the current Silver standard for new buildings on military installations.

“A LEED building or green building is one that focuses on fuel efficiency, on water efficiency, on all these efficiencies,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, SOCOM Fort Campbell’s resident engineer, with the Louisville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “A lot of it has to do with water use, electricity use…energy performance for the building, using HVAC systems that optimize energy use and all that.”

Administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is a way to promote sustainability in construction. To be certified, projects must meet certain criteria. Factors considered include the innovation and design process, indoor environmental quality and more.

The $13 million project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was part of a larger 5th SFG compound, located at 46th Street and Wickham Avenue. J & S Construction, based in Cookeville, Tenn., won the bid for the contract and completed the work with the help of 35 sub-contractors, with OHM taking the lead design role.

The completion of the project is significant as the Army as a whole works to provide a more sustainable future.

“It’s a real culture shift for us, when it comes to design and the construction, and we’re right in the throes of that right now,” said Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division Chief Sally Castleman.

The designation also marks the progression of the “green” movement throughout the federal government, which is focused on energy conservation.

“This is all about changing the attitudes of people too – Soldiers and civilians,” Ibrahim said. “It’s not just a financial benefit. I think there’s a lot more benefits if you change the attitudes of people about how to approach green.”

Achieving the designation did not require more funding, and should actually save the Army money in future energy spending.

“There really wasn’t any difference in cost,” Ibrahim explained. “A lot of it is design and how you design your building, and the construction portion of it doesn’t really require an additional cost, because you’re just using more efficient equipment.”

The Department of Defense aims to decrease energy usage by 30 percent by 2015 as a part of the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and more efficient construction projects help make this mandated goal a reality.

“By doing these types of things, it starts to take us off of the [electrical] grid,” Castleman said. “It starts to reduce our water usage. It contributes toward that goal.”

The U.S. Green Council bases LEED certification on a checklist-type point system, with the TEMF earning points for features incorporated into the facility, as well as steps implemented during the construction process, such as recycled content, water use reduction and minimum energy performance.

The ability to attain the gold level is largely due to the ingenuity and foresight of the contractors involved in the project. To be certified gold, the project attained 42 points, nine above the silver standard.

“It’s good because Fort Campbell, just like the whole nation, needs to focus on green energy,” Ibrahim said. “This is just one step for the Army in that direction. You save a lot of money when you are efficient in electricity use and water use.”

There are more sustainable projects ahead for Fort Campbell, also known as the first installation to construct net-zero energy homes. The language lab is the next project the Corps of Engineers hopes to have LEED Gold certified, as officials work toward identifying features that will be beneficial to incorporate in future projects.

“We have three [Fiscal Year 2013] projects and one [Fiscal Year 2012] project that are what they call EISA demonstration projects,” Castleman said. “We are designing those to incorporate a lot of those energy-saving, sustainable-type ideas to demonstrate what can be done in a project to ultimately reach that goal.”

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