Special Operation Navy Green—The Naval Standard of Sustainable Design

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Wight & Company / photographer: George Lambros

Atlantic Fleet Drill Hall Team:

Architect / Civil Engineer / Sustainable Design – LEED Consultant: Wight & Company, Structural Engineering: Larson Engineering, MEP Engineering: 20/10, Contractor: Old Vets/Pacific Joint Venture, MEP Contractor: Hill Mechanical, Steel Consultant: Boller Construction

Bachelor’s Enlisted Quarters Team:

Architect / Civil Engineer: Wight & Company, Design Architect: The Steinberg Group, MEP & Structural Engineer: SmithGroup, Inc., Constructor: James McHugh Construction, Sustainable Design Consultant: ENSAR Group

Location: 2601 Paul Jones Street, Great Lakes, IL 60088 View Larger Map

By: Garratt Hasenstab

The U.S. Navy not only serves our nation as an unyielding military force but has also been serving as a leader in the field of sustainable development for a long time. Case in point—the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan approximately 40 minutes north of Chicago—has been a proving ground for green and efficient property development since the very early days of commercial green building, when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was developing their first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System.

The U.S. Navy’s forward-thinking, organization-wide Sustainability Policy ensures that the total cost of ownership of all naval shore facilities be managed and controlled by implementing sustainable design concepts and principles. Thanks to this policy, all new buildings and major renovations must meet LEED Silver Certification. Additionally, the Navy has ambitious plans for future development, such as net zero-emissions bases and a focus on alternative energy development in the areas of wind, solar, geothermal, wave/tidal action and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

Wight & Company / photographer: George Lambros

The Great Lakes Naval Training Center inaugurated their green building efforts with the completion of the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQs), which earned the first LEED New Construction Pioneer Certification in 2000, resulting in LEED v.1 Bronze Certification. Some of the green highlights of this $55.2 million, seven-building complex include the use of regionally sourced materials, which were retrieved from within 300 miles of the site, and the use of materials with recycled content such as steel, fly ash in concrete and mineral wool insulation. The complex also features a highly efficient building envelope including walls with an insulative factor of R-23, an R-30 roof and R-10 perimeter slab insulation. Additionally, they have utilized operable windows designed for daylighting, natural ventilation and low-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives in order to maintain high indoor air quality. The Navy has also implemented an occupancy recycling program throughout this complex.

This project has been acknowledged with national acclaim for its success in implementing sustainability efforts, receiving the 2000 White House Closing the Circle Award for Model Facility Demonstration and the 2000 Special Recognition for Sustainable Design –Public Sector $15 Million and over award from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). In 2001, the complex received the Federal Energy Saver Showcase Award and the 2001 Merit Award for New Construction–Suburbs, Chicago Building Congress.

This success has not come without its challenges. As early adopters in the “dark ages of green building”, the Navy was faced with the challenges of a significant lack of green products, information and industry guidance. Also at that time, there was no infrastructure for construction waste management in Lake County, so the Navy had to develop a program with the local municipality to divert construction waste from this project from the local landfill. Another challenge the Navy faced was the fact that the pioneering LEED rating system was designed for the commercial office environment, not residential projects, thus the Navy had to adapt to a system that was not intended for this type of project.

Wight & Company / photographer: George Lambros

Having succeeded in developing a LEED Bronze-certified complex in 2000, the Navy decided to continue this tradition (as well as adhering to the Naval Executive Order to build to LEED Silver standards) with the 2009 completion of the Atlantic Fleet Drill Hall using the more stringent LEED NC v. 2.2 rating system. At this point in time, there was a much more well-developed green building industry equipped to assist in the delivery of this project, so the challenges were less and the success was even greater.

Some of this project’s achievements in sustainable design and construction include the implementation of the Navy’s “Goal for Low Impact Development”, which incorporates site design strategies such as alternative transportation, public transportation access, installation of on-site bicycle storage and no additional parking for the new facility. The Navy kept 60 percent of the site as open space. Roof and grade materials with high SRIs (Solar Reflective Indexes), which assist in mitigating urban heat island effect, were implemented. Storm-water runoff strategies were also utilized, which reduced runoff by 35 percent. 81 percent of pollutant loads from storm-water runoff were removed, and native landscaping was used to conserve water and reduce the irrigation burden.

Fleet Drill Hall has accomplished a water-use reduction of 45.6 percent more than the Energy Policy Act of 1992 standard through the use of ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures. Some of this building’s energy conservation measures include occupancy sensors, lighting loads of less than 1 watt per square foot and zoned/commissioned air-handling systems. The Atlantic Fleet Drill Hall achieved LEED Gold Certification in August 2009 with a total of 41 LEED Credits.

Wight & Company / photographer: George Lambros

This Drill Hall represents the new model for future projects, developing synergy between the U.S. Navy’s traditional architecture and prototype design with new sustainable design technologies. The final result is a landmark building at the entrance of Camp John Paul Jones and one that sets the new standard for the U.S. Navy’s commitment to sustainable practices in the design and construction of its future buildings.

The Great Lakes Naval Training Center is a sterling example of federally funded sustainable development, and if history is a good predictor of their future direction, the Navy will prove to be a true leader in helping push the green building industry to continued higher standards. Their intention moving forward is to integrate sustainable design in a broader context than individual buildings by taking sustainability to the installation level, making U.S. Navy facilities across the country and around the world beacons of green building leadership.

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