From a Green Roof to a Golden Outcome

Incorporating sustainability features and effectively utilizing BIM drives an Armed Forced Reserve Center in Connecticut to LEED Gold and completion three months ahead of schedule.

A model for sustainable design and technology implementation, the $51 million Major General Maurice Rose Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) in Middletown, Conn., was completed three months ahead of schedule through cross-disciplinary Building Information Modeling (BIM) communication that pushed well beyond the conventional clash detection scenarios.  From a green roof to grass swales, AFRC Middletown is a model for sustainable design and technology implementation. The structure was originally designed to meet LEED Silver certification. However, the project team’s design augmentation coupled with cross-disciplinary BIM communication saved the client millions of dollars that was repurposed to help the structure achieve LEED Gold.

The four-story, $51 million facility, mandated by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission, was conceptualized to provide energy-efficient classrooms, administration offices, storage facilities and a vehicle maintenance shop in support of the U.S. Army Reserve and Connecticut Army National Guard citizen-soldier readiness training.

SITE OPTIMIZATION

Built on a 42-acre site on the west side of Middletown, the AFRC site slopes steeply down to protected wetlands and abuts U.S. Highway 91.  Based on U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) conceptual design, site work would impact 1.5-acres of wetlands, adding significant complexity, cost and time to the project to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements.

The project site’s native soil—brick-red and extremely fine grained—also created concern. The material is extremely cohesive. It turns to cement-like clay when wet making moisture control essential when compacting fills. Multiple and redundant sedimentation basins and a robust perimeter siltation barrier were required to control transport of the fine-grained sediment to off-site during rain events.  When dry, the material is easily transported by wind, potentially causing problems for site workers, machinery and the environment.

In addition to the complex site conditions, 13 groups were involved with the project. The additional stakeholders included the Connecticut Department of Transportation, five Army Reserve companies, six Connecticut Army National Guard companies as well as USACE Louisville District.  Finally, the project had to comply with a 21-month congressionally mandated BRAC deadline.  

As the architect-of-record, Kleinfelder and the joint venture design-build team of DeRita Construction and KBE Building Corp. (Kleinfelder/KBEV), coordinated several design charrettes with all stakeholders immediately following project go-ahead. The focus of these meetings was to fully understand end-user needs and design buildings and a site that best fit the terrain with the least amount of time-consuming excavation. Even with earthwork volumes minimized, more than 400,000-yd³ was required to develop the site.

DESIGN UPGRADES

The Kleinfelder/KBEV team, after considering the native material, topography, end-user requirements and anticipated construction methods, proposed modifying the training center from a three-story to a four-story structure.  Kleinfelder used BIM to demonstrate how the re-designed four-story structure better flowed with the natural slope and how it could reduce the site footprint while providing additional service access points to the training facilities. 

During design, Kleinfelder/KBEV proposed and negotiated with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to grade slopes onto the highway right-of-way. The move saved the time that otherwise would have been required to construct a costly soil-nail wall to retain the slope. This out-of-the-box thinking and other site design efficiencies lowered the anticipated construction costs by over $5 million.

Given the importance of LEED certification to the client, the savings were repurposed to support additional sustainability features.  These new features included photovoltaic cells over the parking lot, solar hot-water panels on the roof, and Energy Policy Act-compliant HVAC systems throughout the buildings. There also were enthalpy-heat recovery wheels added  in the Training Center and vehicle maintenance facility to capture the energy normally lost with exhaust air.

Outside, grass swales and disconnected pavement areas increased rainwater infiltration. There are three bio-basins that improve the water quality of stormwater run-off naturally.  A green roof, planted with drought-resistant species, was incorporated to reduce stormwater runoff and minimize the heat island effect while providing additional aesthetic and thermal advantages. The AFRC Training Center incorporates the first green roof at any military reserve center and complies with the stringent surface water guidelines put in place by USACE.

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