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91st MW Operations building earns high marks for energy efficiency

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 91st Missile Wing Operations building was recently awarded a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Desiree Esposito)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 91st Missile Wing Operations building was recently awarded a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Desiree Esposito)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 91st Missile Wing Operations building was recently awarded a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The rating system, also called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage and facilitate the development of more sustainable buildings.

Brian Nohr, Omaha District Sustainability Coordinator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said both the Army and Air Force are eventually increasing their minimum requirements for energy reduction on new construction. Nohr said currently the Air Force's minimum requirements are for silver certification and 30 percent reduction on energy usage. The added water and energy reduction this facility was able to document to USGBC made it possible for the team to achieve gold certification.

"This program is really making the military build a better quality product, and it's also making us clean up after ourselves," said Nohr.

Case in point: The 91st MW Operations building was officially unveiled on Jan. 13, 2012 and is expected to reduce its energy costs by 55 percent compared to a building that would have been built just seven years prior. The building is calculated to reduce its water usage by 49 percent with efficient toilets and sinks. And during the construction phase, the amount of landfill waste was reduced by 92 percent reusing, or recycling building materials that might otherwise have been scrapped.

A case study on the building highlighted several environmental aspects to include an airtight, highly insulated thermal envelope and high-efficiency mechanical systems which combine to produce an estimated energy consumption savings of more than 50 percent.

Sustainable site strategies include open space preservation, storm water quality management, and drought-tolerant landscaping. Materials were selected based on durability, and recycled and regional content. Low-emitting materials, thermal comfort, ventilation effectiveness, and moisture control were part of the indoor environmental quality strategy. Water efficient flow and flush fixtures were selected as well.

Peg Manuel, Design Project Manager for Tetra Tech who designed the Operations building said that they were very happy to hear the news about the gold rating just recently awarded.

"We were initially only required to design the building to a LEED Silver rating, but we endeavored to achieve Gold, imposing no additional cost to the Department of Defense. Overall, we are very proud of this project," said Manuel.
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