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Pope Field building 'green' control tower

Air traffic controllers direct air and ground operations atop the new ATC control tower at Pope Field, N.C., on June 11, 2013.  The new tower is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, stands 11 stories tall and boasts more than 9,000 square feet of internal space.  (Editor's note: the windows of the tower have been blurred substantially to reduce the resolution of the area it oversees) (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller)

Air traffic controllers direct air and ground operations atop the new air traffic control tower June 11, 2013, at Pope Field, N.C. The new tower is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified, stands 11-stories tall and boasts more than 9,000 square feet of internal space. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller)

The “new” air traffic control tower at Pope Field, N.C., peeks from behind a construction bulletin May 30, 2013.  The tower Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and contains a state-of-the-art air traffic control simulator with 270-degree wrap around displays.  (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller)

The new air traffic control tower at Pope Field, N.C., is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified and contains a state-of-the-art air traffic control simulator with 270-degree wrap around displays. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller)

POPE FIELD, N.C. (AFNS) -- Construction crews here are putting finishing touches on a new air traffic control tower with improved environmental controls and a smaller ecological footprint.

Many of the tower's improvements stem from its "green" roots as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified structure. The new tower also boasts several upgrades over its 110-foot nine-story predecessor including expanded square-footage and heightened visibility.

"The new 135-foot 11-story structure brings a host of capabilities to Fort Bragg that the long-standing 1970s-era tower had grown too outmoded to provide," said Marco Walton, the Pope Field air traffic control manager.

The LEED certification, bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council, indicates that a structure has achieved a requisite level of sustainability, resource efficiency, energy efficiency and environmental quality. Builders are awarded points for incorporating sustainable technologies and practices in construction projects and certifications are earned by achieving points.

"The new ATC tower raked in many points by recycling more than 90 percent of the high-tech electronics from the old tower, LED lighting, motion-sensing light controls, electric car charging stations, and post-consumer construction materials increased the score," Walton said. "The facility also had to comply with stringent details from its landscaping to the materials used in its furniture and carpet. The enhanced energy efficiency will save taxpayers money over time."

"The original tower, while state-of-the-art when it began operations in 1975, was built to house the hi-tech air traffic control and communications equipment of its day," Walton said. The standard equipment used by the Federal Aviation Administration in the late 1970s was much bulkier and successive iterations of improvements in technology and miniaturization had made the tower a patchwork of modern technologies in a bygone vessel.

"It had reached its capacity for additional modernization," said Walton, a retired active-duty Air Force air traffic controller.

The new structure has the capability to grow "as the Air Force modernizes and improves the techniques we use to do our job," Walton said. "This place is wired for sound. It has a lot more LAN drops and a lot more phone drops. That is very fundamental, but as air traffic control goes we have a lot more growth potential as technology improves in the future."