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557th Weather Wing Headquarters Building

The Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Moorman building is the headquarters of the 557th Weather Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The building was dedicated on Aug. 22, 2008, and is the first facility in the Air Force to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Sustainable Sites

Construction of parking lots is avoided by using an adjacent abandoned runway for parking. Storm water detention ponds keep the storm water discharge rate at pre-development levels. The detention ponds also contribute to a goal of maintaining more than twice the area of the building footprint as permanent open space adjacent to the facility. Preferred parking areas are provided for eco-friendly vehicles, and bike racks and shower facilities encourage building users to bike to work. Light pollution is reduced through the use of low cut-off parking lot light fixtures, which are carefully located to prevent light spill onto adjacent properties. Roofing is a highly reflective white membrane, which reflects the majority of the sun's radiation, in lieu of absorbing all that heat.

Water Efficiency

Outdoor irrigation is eliminated by selecting native plants and plants that are well-adapted to the growing conditions of this region. Once established, these plants can survive under normal rainfall conditions. Indoor water use is reduced by 30 percent through the use of waterless urinals, low-flow shower heads and ultra-low-flow lavatory faucets with automatic sensors set for 12-second duration.

Energy and Atmosphere

The 557th WW has achieved an overall reduction in energy usage of over 50 percent compared to a typical office building. Careful siting of the building to optimize sun angle, the use of sunshades and light shelves inside the windows,and use of highly efficient window glazing are part of the overall strategy to keep energy usage to a minimum. Energy efficiency is also achieved through the use of an HVAC system designed for flexibility and individual control. Key to this efficiency is the use of an under-floor air distribution system, which delivers tempered air to individual floor diffusers located at each work area. The occupant has the ability to easily adjust their own air flow. Use of this system allows lower speed fans, and lower velocity air to actually give more comfort with less energy use. 

The mechanical cooling system uses refrigerants that do not contribute to ozone depletion or global warming. Extra efforts to properly calibrate and sequence all mechanical equipment assure that it functions in an efficient manner, as originally designed. Light fixtures use low wattage lamps, energy efficient electronic ballasts, and are controlled by occupancy sensors. When daylight is adequate for illumination, the lights can be turned off for energy savings.

Materials and Resources

Special areas on each floor are set aside for the collection of recyclables, and there are also storage areas for recyclables outdoors. During construction, more than 99 percent of the waste generated on-site was diverted from landfills, either through recycling efforts or reuse of products on-site. The reuse of the existing 24-inch thick concrete runway for parking contributes greatly to achieving such a high rate of diversion. Products specified for this project contain over 10 percent recycled content. Specific products containing high recycled content include structural steel, concreteand carpet. And more than 20 percent of the products specified were manufactured locally, including structural steel, metal decking, concreteand face brick.

Indoor Environmental Quality

During construction, special attention to keeping the site clean and eliminating smoking indoors helps prevent contaminants from leeching into the surrounding construction. Before occupancy, the building was "flushed out" with outside air, to remove lingering contaminants from the construction process. Low-emitting (low-VOC) materials are used for adhesives, paints, carpets, and wood products throughout the building, in order to minimize off-gassing into the indoor environment. Walkoff mats at exterior vestibules keep contaminants on shoes from entering the building. Increased ventilation at copy centers prevents noxious odors from migrating to the work areas. Throughout the facility, carbon dioxide is monitored, ventilation rates are increased and high efficiency filters are installed on the mechanical systems, in order to maintain a high indoor air quality.

Innovation in Design

the 557th WW HQ was constructed "off-base," as if the project were not located on a military base. By temporarily relocating the Base perimeter security fence during construction, all construction traffic and deliveries came on-site without having to go through any security checks. This saved a wait in line, a vehicle search and a nearly 3 mile long escorted trip from the other side of Offutt AFB. This situation greatly simplified the construction process, and saved thousands of man-hours and thousands of gallons of fuel that would have been required if the facility was built on-Base. 

The majority of the work spaces in the 557th WW are enclosed with modular wall panels that are completely moveable and re-usable for many future re-configurations. This will save a great deal of drywall, metal studs, insulation and paint, every time a re-organization creates a need for a different floor plan layout. Use of these demountable walls will keep materials out of the landfill and will prevent construction noise and dust from making an unpleasant work area for the building occupants.