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Air Force continues on path toward sustainability

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment Public Affairs
On its journey toward sustainable installations, the Air Force recently released new rules for sustainable design and development.

The policy, released by Air Force Civil Engineer Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers, further emphasizes the Air Force's continued focus on installation and environmental stewardship.

"Sustainable facilities are in line with our strategic vision of 'Build to Last,'" General Byers said. "Our installations are our war-fighting platforms, so our dedication to sustainable installations is not only key to our nation's air, space and cyberspace superiority, but also paramount to our ability to effectively and efficiently 'fly, fight and win.'"

While the Air Force's commitment to sustainable facilities is not new -- the first policy to "apply sustainable development concepts" to facilities and infrastructure projects dates back to 2001 -- the guidance issued June 2 by General Byers builds on the Air Force's vision for sustainable installations.

For the Air Force, the term "sustainable" refers to the capacity to continue the mission without compromise. It is the ability to operate into the future without decline, either in the mission or the natural and man-made systems that support it, and includes, to a large degree, sustainable installations.

According to the new rules, all permanent construction activity on Air Force installations must comply with updated requirements to ensure better environmental and health performance beginning in fiscal year 2012.

The guidance, which encompasses several executive orders, public law and Defense Department policies, "reinforces the Air Force commitment to incorporate sustainable concepts in the planning, programming, design, construction and operation of facilities and infrastructure," General Byers said.

The policy requires all new vertical construction and major renovations to fully incorporate federal requirements for high-performance and sustainable buildings and achieve a minimum of 20 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design points dedicated toward energy efficiency and water conservation. This is in keeping with the Department of Defense Sustainable Buildings Policy, signed Oct. 25, 2010, which also requires compliance with federal HPSB requirements and LEED Silver certification.

"In addition to achieving LEED Silver certification, our present and future projects place heavy emphasis on energy and water reduction features," said Terry Edwards, the director of the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment. "By incorporating the requirements early in project planning and development, the cost to achieve federally mandated reductions in energy and water consumption can be minimized."

AFCEE is the Air Force's lead agency for providing guidance and technical support for sustainability and LEED certification issues, including planning and design criteria.

The AFCEE Capital Investment Management Division already has standard design instructions in place for fiscal year 2012 and military construction projects beyond that, which include guidance and checklists reflecting the new policy, said Gene Mesick, the chief of the AFCEE Technical Division Built Infrastructure Branch.

As the Air Force's expert on sustainable design and development, AFCEE is also involved in a pilot program with the U.S. Green Building Council called the Portfolio Partnership Program.

"This program will help us set goals and measure our progress at meeting federal requirements and increasing the sustainability level, year-to-year, of our existing facilities," Mr. Edwards said. "This concept of continuous improvement is a cornerstone of our sustainable communities effort."

The Air Force, through AFCEE and the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, will continue to evaluate new LEED rating systems as they are introduced to determine the potential for incorporating them into the Air Force Construction Program.

"LEED certified buildings add up to exceptional long-term benefits for the Air Force and future generations," General Byers said. "We look forward to continuing our commitment to green building and sustainable installations as we meet our mission now and in the future."