Defense spending may be down somewhat, but there’s still plenty of project dollars out there if you know where to look.

May 31, 2012


The armed forces branches have all undertaken pilot net-zero energy projects in partnership with the Department of Energy’s NetZero program. Half of all Navy and Marine Corps installations are projected to be net-zero energy by 2020. The Air Force is using wind, solar, and thermal power generation at many of its installations.

DoD military hospitals a billion-dollar opportunity for AEC firms

Medical projects figure prominently in the Pentagon’s building construction plans. For FY2013, DoD is proposing to spend $1 billion for 21 projects to upgrade medical infrastructure.
BIM and prefabrication figured prominently in the $826 million renovation and expansion of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the military’s largest medical facility, in Bethesda, Md. The BRAC project included over 725,000 sf of new construction, which was completed six weeks ahead of schedule, and 450,000 sf of renovations, which had to be conducted while maintaining full hospital operations. The project achieved LEED Gold certification.
“We had to shut down work when surgery was being performed because vibrations could have disturbed the procedures,” recalls Greg Colevas, EVP of Clark Construction Group, LLC, Bethesda, Md. “Before we went into a space, we met with clinicians and told them exactly what we were going to do.” Any above-ceiling work had to be carefully planned and scheduled. “If we cut a line above a ceiling, it could have impacted [medical] equipment during a surgical operation,” Colevas says.
Eight hundred construction workers were on site at the peak. Orientation for the trades included an explanation of the critical nature of the hospital’s mission, says Colevas. Special infection control measures were necessary for workers entering and exiting sensitive areas. Workers had regular interaction with employees and wounded warriors. “They saw the soldiers and had great respect for their sacrifices,” he says. “That contributed to the success of the project.”

Arguably the most ambitious effort comes from the Army. Six installations, including Fort Detrick, Md., and Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., will seek net-zero energy by 2020. The Oregon Army National Guard will pilot a net-zero initiative for all its facilities. Six other bases, including Fort Riley, Kan., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., will shoot for net-zero water use, while six installations will try for net-zero waste. Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colo., will go for the triple: net-zero energy, water, and waste.

Despite anticipated budget cutbacks, DoD construction remains a strong market. The Pentagon is seeking $14.8 billion in FY 2013 construction, including $582 million for BRAC, $1.7 billion for family housing, and $547 million to replace or renovate DoD-owned schools. While there will be cuts in the Defense budget, the military will continue to offer a steady stream of work for many AEC firms. +


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