Employees With Green Goals Drive Success at Fort Carson
When the first project consisting of six buildings received LEED-Silver certification at Fort Carson, it received a lot of fanfare. Soon after, a project located across the street achieved LEED-Gold certification.
“The difference between the awards for the two projects was two points. It was the reaction of getting a used car for your 16th birthday when your best friend got a brand new car,” said Project Manager Forward Major Kevin Lovell. “When the project achieved LEED Gold, the bar went up for everyone else. It was if they collectively said, ‘If they can earn Gold, so can we,’ and ever since, they have been aiming for Gold.”
And they were successful. Several months later, the same contractor achieved Gold certification on another project consisting of six buildings.
Because the construction-bidding environment over the last year has beat projected cost estimates by 10% to 30%, the Army put forth a new challenge: This time to reinvest savings in further efficiencies in projects to emphasize energy conservation, sustainable design and low-impact development as well as driving toward energy independence.
“Their eyes lit up with ideas when we went to them with this initiative. They are excited about the challenge to come up with solutions to improve energy efficiency and conserve potable water and stormwater,” Ellis said of the contractors and designers. “They are coming up with solutions for power production including wind farms, solar panels and geothermal wells in an effort to drive toward net-zero-energy consumption objectives.”
As Fort Carson continues its transformation, new innovations beget new thinking.
“We are gaining experience, too,” said Lovell, “we have shifted from selecting waterless urinals that use a cartridge filtration system to a pint-flush system that is cheaper than the waterless system. We found that cartridges didn’t last as long as anticipated and that pint-flush urinals don’t require as much of a change in user habits.”
The final step is educating the end-user, Torres and Lovell said. Sometimes these solutions result in a change in convenience or changing user habits, such as understanding that water in the barracks has been set to a lower maximum temperature or that the dishwasher in the dining hall requires loading trays in a certain manner.
When the end-users understand that these efforts help to achieve goals for going green, the response is positive.
“When the people who are driving this initiative come to the project meetings, it is clear we are led by a generation that is latching on to these goals for environmental responsibility and running with it,” said Directorate of Public Works Utility Programs Manager Vince Guthrie. “We are benefiting from the return on investment, marketability and the positive attention for implementing what is, essentially, the right thing to do.”