Army captures 'SPiRiT' of sustainability

November 01, 2003 |

Green is now more than just the color of the uniform for the U.S. Army. A 43,000-sq.-ft. mission-critical communications facility under construction at Fort Gordon, Ga., is one of the Army's first projects to incorporate its Sustainable Project Rating Tool, or SPiRiT.Developed in association with the U.S. Green Building Council, SPiRiT maintains LEED's five key areas of site, water, energy, materials, and indoor environmental quality. But SPiRiT's criteria are specific to the needs of military installations, says John Samis, senior associate for technology with the Teng Companies, Chicago, the design-build firm in charge of the facility. SPiRiT's point system is also different from LEED's, with Bronze (25-34), Silver (35-49), Gold (50-74), and Platinum (75-100) ratings.

Currently, all new Army projects are required to achieve a SPiRiT Bronze rating. SPiRiT reinforces the notion "that sustainable design is being taken seriously in the military," says Samis. The Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the Fort Gordon project, is seeking a SPiRiT Gold rating for it.

The impact of SPiRiT is clear in the aesthetics of the communications facility, which is to be completed early next year. "Mission-critical facilities are not known for [producing] AIA award winners," says Samis. The Fort Gordon project, however, is reclaiming land, balancing the site, and preserving the habitat. Recycling was conducted on the construction site. Recycled fly ash was used in the concrete.

The project also mixes anti-terrorism with aesthetics in the construction of a reinforced earthen berm and CMU wall that encloses the facility. Daylighting also was emphasized. While windows were specially made to provide force protection, some are operable, says Efrain Rosario, Army Corps of Engineers project manager.

Because communications facilities consume a lot of energy, Teng has had to use energy-savings systems that the military isn't used to using, Rosario says. The nearly white standing-seam metal roof, for example, is unique for a military structure. "There's not a single roof that color at Fort Gordon," Rosario says.

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