GRF CoverGovernment Recreation & Fitness


May 2012
Going Green Paying Dividends ...

As the Department of Defense (DoD) and the entire federal government look to maximize return on every dollar and be more effective with funding and resources, one need look no further than the incredible strides that have been taken in the areas of conservation and sustainability for good ideas.

Numerous DoD installations have already realized great success — and savings — from building sustainably, using solar power or other natural sources for energy and choosing products and equipment that save energy, are environment-friendly and more efficient.

Throughout DoD, new Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities, including many that are highlighted in this 5th Annual Best Facilities issue, are meeting the criteria set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. And many projects — such as the new 26,750-square-foot Area 53 Fitness Center at MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif. — are achieving the highest LEED rating possible: Platinum.

The new Camp Pendleton facility, which opened in December, features roof-mounted photovoltaic and solar heating systems that provide “net zero” annual energy consumption — putting energy back into the grid.

“The current energy savings due to the photovoltaic system is approximately $37,000 per year, and this savings will compound through the years as energy costs inevitably rise,” says Jennifer Kerschbaum, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest construction manager for the project. “The facility is supporting the physical fitness of the Marines, but also protecting national security by taking a step toward reducing our country's dependence on fossil fuels.”

On a larger scale, the new 110,000-square-foot Warrior Fitness Center at Nellis AFB, Nev., which opened in April, was built to meet LEED Silver standards and employs a number of strategies to achieve that rating, including solar heating for hot water; lighting control systems that utilize occupancy sensors, day lighting controls and building operation schedules; low-fl ow plumbing fixtures that reduce the consumption of potable water; and glazing on the north side of the building to minimize heat and sun infiltration.

Military bases are also thinking green when it comes to choosing equipment and products for these new and sustainable facilities. For example, the $9 million Monarch CDC at Fort Carson, Colo. — a LEED-Silver facility featuring radiant floor heating, a geothermal ground-source heat pump and solar hot-water heating — has playground equipment and surfacing that is made from recycled products, saving thousands of milk jugs (for the playground equipment) and tires (for the surfacing) from ending up in landfills.

As the demand increases for more green solutions, equipment manufacturers are responding to the call. For example, many fitness companies have introduced equipment that is powered by the user, as well as fitness equipment that harnesses human-generated power from exercisers, which is fed back into the power grid.

With all of these advances in technology and sustainable practices, military bases are learning that building green is not only smart — it is imperative, especially at a time when they are being asked to do more with less.

The “best facilities” featured here provide a blueprint for others to follow, and show that the future for building green — and realizing the green that can be saved in the process — is now.