Employees With Green Goals Drive Success at Fort Carson
Additionally, contractors are presented with new responsibilities that require an initial dramatic shift in practices. The large dumpsters that go to landfills are being replaced with recycling containers and additional attention is given to selecting lumber registered through the Forestry Stewardship Council or using recycled steel or aluminum. With these efforts comes another requirement for tracking and recording the source of project materials and the quantity of material diverted from landfills.
But contractors benefit from these efforts as well. They gain experience with LEED construction on a variety of projects and their association with a LEED-certified project is a definite “good-news” story. They also find they can sell unused lumber to mills that use scraps to create wood-composite materials, and scrap pieces of steel that were once sent to a landfill now are sold, melted down and can be used again in future projects.
“This initiative gave us all a huge opportunity to think and be innovative,” Ellis said. “We were given the challenge to develop solutions for waste disposal, lighting, building orientation and how to measure and ensure we were meeting the standards for LEED certifiable.”
The requirement for a facility to be LEED certifiable presented its own challenge. How does a project management team sign off on a project as certifiable?
“We recognized that we did not have the people in-house at that time trained sufficiently to be able to do the detailed review to ensure the buildings met the requirements,” Ellis said. “Our options were that we could either pay a third party to evaluate a project after completion to determine whether it was certifiable or we could define a project as certifiable by achieving actual certification through USGBC. In the final analysis, certification through USGBC was the best and most cost-effective choice.”
Pursuing certification from the start of the project is considerably less expensive than a “retro-active” review after completion. To perform a quality assurance evaluation after project completion—where a third party audits records, designs and building commissioning to determine whether a project is certifiable—can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
But identifying a project as pursuing certification from the start with interim reviews by USGBC throughout the design and construction means the required documentation takes place along the way and results in a cost of about $6,000 for USGBC’s certification.
“What has resulted from this process is a fantastic story on many fronts,” said Omaha District LEED Coordinator Brian Nohr. “The people are just one chapter. The solutions they have developed, the approaches of each design team and the lessons we are learning will influence the future of energy-efficient and sustainable construction.”
Director of Public Works for Fort Carson, Hal Alguire, added, “We need to give real credit to the employees who encouraged the focus on sustainable construction to bubble up by making sure that the players [designer, contractors, subcontractors and end users] knew decisions were made with the goals for LEED in mind.”
Nohr says LEED shouldn’t be looked upon as a trend. The enthusiasm from the employees leading these projects is contagious and will continue to drive the program to the next level, which includes earning certification for the operation and maintenance of existing buildings and achieving LEED certification for facility renovations. Eventually it should result in net-zero facilities that meet their annual energy usage needs through implementing super efficiencies and energy generation.
In May 2010, the Defense Commissary Agency announced that Fort Carson will be constructing a new commissary that will become the first such building designed and constructed to achieve LEED-Silver certification.
“We are asking everyone to come to the table with ideas and suggestions to achieve these goals,” Torres said. “We are working together, and the results have been positive across the board.”