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Posted 5/1/2012

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By Vince Little

FORT BENNING, Ga. —  The Green Building Certification Institute has certified the Reception Station Barracks on Sand Hill as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver.

The two buildings opened last summer as part of a 300,000-square-foot complex for the 30th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception). It includes a new headquarters, dining facility and Soldier community center.

All new facilities across Fort Benning were built to LEED silver standards, incorporating sustainability and "green" measures into the engineering and construction, the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. Normally, however, it's up to the installation to seek the certification.

In this case, Balfour Beatty Construction, which carried out the design-build contract for the $38 million barracks, initiated the process through the GBCI, said Vance Williams, a project engineer for the Savannah District who oversaw the start of construction in the spring of 2009.

"They wanted to go that extra step and get it certified. That's the unique part," he said. "Most of the buildings here are certifiable, but actually getting the certification and presenting it to us makes this important."

The U.S. Green Building Council developed the LEED metric rating system. Buildings collect points for meeting criteria in renewable energy, number of solar panels and other efficiencies.
Facilities are judged in six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. Williams said the Reception Station Barracks earned 35 of 69 credits -- 33 is the minimum for silver status.

"This is a truly significant achievement," said Peter Lukken, the garrison's strategic sustainability planner. "A tremendous amount of engineering expertise and modernization efforts went into the construction of those barracks, as well as the entire complex. It's going to produce some major benefits for us in the long run as we continue pursuing our energy conservation initiatives."

The barracks earned six of 10 credits for energy-reduction measures, Williams said. The contractor lowered consumption and costs by 30 percent, compared to previously established baselines.

Among numerous other architectural advances, the barracks feature low-water usage plumbing systems, motion-sensor lights with timers, private showers and rain-collection areas outside. Balfour Beatty also got credit for placing recycle bins on each floor and not constructing a new parking lot -- instead, there are bicycle racks on the pavilion.

Two three-story buildings make up the Reception Station Barracks. Building 3015 contains six bays per floor, while Building 3005 has four bays on each.

Battalion officials said the barracks can house up to 1,800 Soldiers at a time, but the complex has the capability for an additional 20 percent surge during seasonal training peeks on Sand Hill.

Capt. Krystal Morris, commander of the battalion's Fitness Training Unit, was among two Soldiers from the unit who attended a reception conference earlier this month at Fort Sill, Okla.

She got a look at the amenities and services available to trainees there and said the differences are stark.

"They had a very functional facility, but it was very clear ours should be the gold standard in the Army," she said. "Theirs were like old World War II barracks. Some Soldiers were in temporary buildings.

"Being in this great new facility makes our entire process simpler, and it lightens morale as well. We have it really good here. It's really improved our ability to accomplish the mission."

At the outset of any new construction or major renovation, the Savannah District always aims to safely deliver a project on time and to the quality prescribed in the contract, Williams said.

"That's our definition of success," he said. "The Army Corps of Engineers delivers quality assurance, while the contractor delivers quality control. We try to merge the two together. That's pretty much our doctrine when it comes to construction. We both have a vested interest in avoiding any rework."