Army Selects JBLM Barracks Construction for Pilot Program
, Seattle District
A new, greener home Joint Base Lewis-McChord is on the horizon for about 170 (JBLM), Washington, Soldiers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is leading the effort supporting the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment and the Army Materiel Command. They’re constructing the first barracks under the recently established Sustainable Building Material Pilot program. The barracks will use sustainable materials aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 30%.
As the largest federal government building owner, the U.S. Army has a keen interest in improving its facility sustainability and infrastructure. Much of the Army’s focus is on optimizing high-performance and sustainable building design to reduce energy use, waste generation, and other factors.
Engineers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, located in Vicksburg, Mississippi, test non-destructive sustainable concrete materials at ERDC’s field exposure site at Treat Island, Maine.
PHOTO BY DAVID MARQUIS
These are in alignment with U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system principles.
The Army is continuing to advance its energy efficiency in developing and using renewable energies while also focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate threats. This new JBLM project focuses on improved sustainability by reducing building materials’ emissions.
The driver for the Army and joint service partners to establish the pilot program to increase sustainable building material use came with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 authorization. The U.S. Army “Climate Strategy” is addressing similar challenges, with a focus on reducing emissions to mitigate climate change impact.
Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth made climate resilience one of her top priorities in building the Army of 2030. The Army’s strategy lays out a plan to strengthen energy assurance for critical missions using carbon-free generation, battery storage, and microgrids. The Army will also protect installations against climate hazards using smarter, more sustainable construction techniques, and by harnessing conservation practices and nature-based engineering.
The Sustainable Building Materials Pilot program goal is to reduce the total global warming potential (GWP) of carbon-emitting material substitutions by at least 30% in military construction projects. Cement, steel, and asphalt are the largest greenhouse gas emitters, due to energy intensive manufacturing processes and the massive magnitude of construction use. For example, cement used to produce concrete contributes an estimated 7% to 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions.
Addressing these challenges, the JBLM pilot project will focus on examining all potential project building material emission reductions. The project will include designing and constructing an 89,082-square-foot barracks capable of housing 168 Soldiers at the military base within the total budget authorization. Before pilot program selection, the project was at a 35% design phase. USACE will use this as a baseline for the new design under the new pilot program criteria.
Newly constructed Transient Barracks on Lewis North receiving finishing touches, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as seen in July 2015. A new barracks project will seek to make increased use of sustainable materials.
PHOTO BY SIDNEY LEE
“To reduce global warming potential, the Army’s focus is on evaluating state-of-the-art sustainable building material technologies and approaches for their implementation and assessment in military construction projects,” explained Seattle District Project Manager John Dudgeon. “Since the project had reached the 35% design phase prior to selection, the project delivery team [PDT] was challenged to see what sustainable materials could be implemented without impacting the overall validated scope and authorized budget.”
Seattle District will have support from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and oversight from USACE’s Northwestern Division and Headquarters. ERDC is also supporting the Air Force and Navy on their pilot projects’ execution, focusing on sustainable building materials.
“Our ERDC team is excited to support the Seattle District, the Corps, and the DOD [Department of Defense] to enable the successful integration of sustainable building materials into military construction projects,” said ERDC Senior Scientific Technical Manager Robert Moser, Ph.D. “Moving sustainable materials beyond the research world and into practice is a necessary step forward to address the challenges of climate mitigation and making further improvements in sustainability for Army facilities and infrastructure.”
The project design will consist of two phases. Phase one will include sustainable building material selection, including low emissions construction materials replacing primary construction materials in the existing 35% baseline design. These will include concrete, steel, masonry products, wall board, and other architectural finishes, and insulation materials.
“ERDC and Seattle District’s PDT will work together to select sustainable materials that can feasibly be implemented; develop relevant design specifications to guide the selected construction contractor on sustainability goals and methods for reaching those goals; and reviewing contractor submittals to confirm sustainability goals are met,” said Dudgeon.
Phase two will be an analysis and reporting process to include a detailed comparison of cost and schedule impact as well as life cycle analysis of emissions associated with different material options consideration. This will consist of a continuous materials comparison using pilot program criteria and guidance parameters set by ERDC and other in-depth informational analysis.
The projected project timeline has the final design complete in summer 2023 and estimates project advertisement December 2023. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024.
“Our goal is to take the use of sustainable materials for military construction from concept to reality and to understand the types of adaptations to our criteria and specifications that are needed to make that happen,” said ERDC Research Civil Engineer Trevor Looney, Ph.D., who is supporting Seattle District on the project.
The JBLM project is one puzzle piece of the many Army initiatives underway to advance military installation facility and infrastructure sustainability. As the project progresses, USACE’s goal is to take lessons learned to support its efforts updating its guidance for military construction to integrate new sustainable material technologies for future military construction projects.