The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to maximizing energy and water conservation, including efforts to design, construct, operate, and maintain DoD facilities to achieve optimum performance. To help DoD address its building efficiency and conservation challenges, the Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory led the ESTCP Fort Bragg Community Emergency Services Station (CESS) project to demonstrate and evaluate implementation of the whole building design process. The project was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), Southface Energy Institute, and CH2M HILL.
The objective of this project was to demonstrate, through measured performance, that the whole building design process using off-the-shelf building materials and technologies would perform better than a similar, traditionally designed building without increasing costs. The team applied the whole building design process to the design and construction of the CESS high-performance building and compared the annual energy use, water use, and indoor environmental quality of the CESS with the Longstreet Fire Station, a similar facility built several years earlier at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Whole building design optimizes for multiple benefits, such as cost, quality of life, future flexibility, resource efficiency, environmental impact, and occupant productivity and health. It uses an integrated design approach that optimizes the interdependencies of building systems and involves a diverse team of stakeholders. In contrast, traditional design approaches usually optimize individual building components rather than the whole building. This typically happens because design specialists are focused on the benefits of design and specifications for their individual areas of expertise and may not be afforded the opportunity to work with others to integrate design components.
This project demonstrated that the whole building design process used for CESS and transferred to the USACE’s Centers of Standardization (COS) can result in lower energy and water use for new DoD buildings. Performance monitoring showed that the CESS used less energy/square foot (sq ft) (21% less) than its matched pair (Longstreet Fire Station) and has had fewer maintenance and operations calls. CESS used more than 50% less energy when compared to the national average energy use for public order and safety buildings; 53 thousand BTU (kBTU)/sq ft compared to 110.6 kBTU/sq ft. Significant water savings were achieved through harvesting rainwater, resulting in a 100% reduction in potable water used for sewage conveyance and significant savings in potable water used for vehicle washing.
Construction costs were slightly higher (approximately 5%) than originally estimated and programmed. Site personnel concluded that the increased costs were not a function of building design, but rather reflected the economic situation in the region at the time of construction—construction costs increased in North Carolina between 6 to 10% during each year of the project.
The CESS achieved a key design objective by receiving the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification on March 6, 2012. Providing technical information on innovative design strategies and technologies to the design contractor before the design charrette allowed for those technologies to be considered in detail, rather than discussed superficially at the design charrette. The ESTCP project team successfully transferred the whole building design strategies used in this project to the USACE’s COS as documented in the Engineering and Construction Bulletin 2012-7. The COS has implemented whole building design strategies to redesign the five building types most often constructed by the Army. In addition to the integrated design techniques used in charrettes and design reviews for new Army buildings, the information gained through engaging in the whole building design process for CESS was formalized through the development of 19 individual “TechNotes,” which provide technical and financial information to support design team decision-making. USACE subsequently adopted the concept of TechNotes as part of their toolset, and is developing additional design-related TechNotes and operations and maintenance focused TechNotes. The strategy and techniques for whole building design have been shared with USACE and other design leaders within DoD through workshops and are available through a knowledge portal to inform future designs within DoD. Additional technology transfer has occurred with individual design professionals, design teams, and the broader Federal buildings industry through specific requests for information and public presentations regarding the project.
Lessons learned in this demonstration project include the need to contract with design and construction firms that have prior experience in whole building, sustainable design and, preferably, with construction of LEED-certified buildings.