Tech

August 16, 2013

Renovated lab earns top certification for energy, environmental design

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Amy Rollins
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

In the new Advanced Power and Thermal Research Laboratory inside Bldg. 23, Benjamin Pierce, a research scientist in the Superconductor Pulsed Laser Deposition Lab, conducts basic material research on thin, superconductive films, which carry currents for thermo-electric effect. The Advanced Power and Thermal Research Laboratory, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, recently was awarded a seldom-achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified status.

A 1934 building once used for structural and mechanical testing was transformed last year into a state-of-the-art facility where the physics of warfighters’ power and thermal systems are being explored. Now the building itself has garnered a seldom-achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certified status.

A ceremony marking the achievement was held Aug. 8 in Bldg. 23, Area B, on Fifth Street, site of the Advanced Power and Thermal Research Laboratory, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Bldg. 23, the former Static Test Laboratory, had been largely unused as a laboratory environment for many years. Through a $21 million fiscal 2010 military construction effort, AFRL teamed with Messer Construction Co., the 88 Air Base Wing Civil Engineer Directorate and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Louisville District to transform the structure into a modern lab facility. Bldg. 23′s original facades were retained as a brick “skin” covering the 53,000-square-foot, three-story structure, which was formally dedicated Dec. 7, 2012.

The building was refurbished with sustainable design and environmental considerations in mind, meeting the criteria for a LEED Gold certification in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system and complying with the Energy Independence and Security Act.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the rating was achieved through brand-new mechanical systems that produce a 31 percent energy savings, decrease water use by 45 percent and other environmentally friendly measures that were incorporated throughout the building.
Those processes include:

  • 20 percent of the materials used were locally sourced;
  • 78 percent of the construction debris was recycled or reused offsite instead of going into a landfill;
  • preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles is offered to encourage their use.

Kevin Cozart, operations vice president, Messer Construction Co., explained that LEED certification is achieved through an accumulation of enough points or credits. Points are allocated based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of each credit. These points are distributed among six credit categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design process.

Any project seeking certification must create a LEED checklist and achieve a minimum number of points associated with that target level. In Bldg. 23′s case, LEED Silver, with 36 points, was the original target.

Messer Construction and the rest of the team exceeded contract requirements to deliver a higher-value product, Cozart said, for the same price. When John Hearn, the Louisville District Corps of Engineers construction representative on base, told Messer representatives that LEED Gold had never been achieved at Wright-Patterson AFB, “that cemented the deal for us,” Cozart said.

“We’re very proud to have designed and constructed the first LEED Gold building at Wright-Patt,” he said as he thanked design partner emersion DESIGN LLC, the 88 ABW and others involved.

CE Director David Perkins thanked everyone involved and said the project also included the demolition of Bldg. 450, just inside the fenceline running along National Road, Area B.

“That was also a great accomplishment,” Perkins said.

Col. Art Huber, director of AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate, said, “In the Air Force Research Laboratory, particularly the Aerospace Systems Directorate, we like to think of ourselves as a world-class organization, and here, in this building, world-class research is already ongoing, doing work in nano technology, therm electrics, power management – all sorts of fields. It’s only fitting that we have a world-class, LEED-certified proof of our commitment to that standard of excellence.

“The researchers in this building, in collaboration with folks throughout the world and across this country are conducting research in an environment that mirrors the type of work they’re trying to do,” Huber said. “Thank you for setting us up for future success that will go on for years and years.”

Hearn said the LEED Gold certification is rare to achieve and may not be achieved on the base again.
“Everybody involved should be very proud,” he said.

Roger Curran, project architect from emersion DESIGN LLC, echoed those sentiments.

“It’s pretty amazing. We weren’t required to do that, but the fact that we were able to do that, and without incurring any additional cost, was really very fine.

“It was pretty neat, being able to retrofit an old building – again. It was cool,” Curran said.




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