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NEWS | July 23, 2012

New eco-friendly WIT campus to provide world-class care to wounded warriors

By Senior Airman Jason J. Brown 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Construction is underway on a new Warrior in Transition Campus at Fort Eustis, which will greatly improve the recuperative process for wounded warriors assigned to the post's Warrior Transition Unit.

Not only will the new complex provide extensive services for Soldiers, but it will take care of the environment. The campus boasts several cutting-edge technologies designed to diminish its environmental footprint.

The Warrior Transition Complex will consist of three primary facilities - a 43,200 square-foot barracks capable of housing 80 Soldiers, a 16,600 square-foot company administration building that will provide office space for 76 people, and a 7,000 square-foot Soldier and Family Assistance Center to provide family-support services.

U.S. Army Capt. Joseph Robinette, WTU-A Company commander, said the new WIT campus is "state-of-the-art," and will consolidate many resources in one place conveniently located across the street from McDonald Army Health Center, where most of the Soldiers' care is provided.

According to Pandora Howell of the 733rd Civil Engineer Division, the new buildings will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified. LEED is an initiative by the U.S. Green Building Council, which provides ratings for high-performance, environmentally-responsible and resource-efficient buildings.

"The company administration building and the SFAC will be LEED Gold certified, while the barracks will be LEED Platinum certified, the highest certification offered," Howell said.

Green buildings - literally

The complex incorporates old-growth trees and wetlands with amenities such as sidewalks, walking trails, and an outdoor pavilion. Each building will feature an on-site system to harvest rainwater in underground storage tanks to use in irrigation or in building systems.

Harvesting the he rainwater will "help meet state and national regulations requiring new construction and designs to manage storm water at the source, allowing the size of detention and retention to be minimized, as well as limiting the impacts of peak runoff flows," according to Joshua Miller, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project coordinator.

Miller said the buildings are also designed to maximize energy efficiency, and reduce impact to the surrounding environment. The SFAC building exhibits the balance of building and nature with its vegetated, green roof. The rooftop features an extensive-type vegetated assembly, which boasts scientifically-engineered, low-growth plants over a waterproof membrane.

The green roof is more than just a pretty facade. The system protects the roof from direct weather and environmental elements, minimizes storm water runoff, and mitigates urban "heat island" effects by absorbing heat.

Recycling water

The barracks buildings will include a grey-water recycling and reuse system, representing a first for a standard-design facility. The system will capture water from non-black water sources, such as washing machines, sinks and showers for recycling in an on-site, filtration system. The filtered grey-water will be held in collection tanks, where colored dye will indicate its recycled, non-potable status. From there, the water will be reused for toilets and irrigation.

The system reduces water consumption and minimizes the total volume of water delivered to off-site, waste-water treatment facilities, therefore using less energy and pollutant chemicals in the water cycle process.

Natural power

According to Miller, each of the new facilities will feature hot-water boilers or water heaters, supplemented by solar, hot-water systems. These systems will provide at least 30 percent of the hot-water demand by directly renewable, sun-powered means.

Rather than implement traditional heating and cooling systems, the buildings will feature high-efficiency ground-coupled, geothermal-heat-exchanger systems. The geothermal equipment will reduce fossil-fuel energy consumption by creating a natural give-and-take process cycle with the ground at the site. Heating and cooling will be provided through a "closed-loop system," which draws or rejects heat directly into the earth through thermal-transfer fluid in a series of underground pipes.

All new facilities will feature ultra-efficient, light-emitting diode, or LED lighting. LEDs draw significantly less energy than traditional light fixtures, and reduce the total heat gain of conventional lighting. The LED fixtures will be paired with occupancy sensors, to turn lights on automatically when someone enters the room, and shuts it off after a period of vacancy.

"The WIT Complex illustrates significant progress in sustainable goals by the Project Development Team. The facility will not only meet its commitment to Soldiers by providing a high-quality, recuperative environment, but also to the natural habitat by integrating energy efficient, environmentally-friendly design techniques," said Miller.

"This is direct proof that the Army cares about its wounded, injured and ill Soldiers, and has a long-term commitment to their care and overall well-being," added Robinette. "Even during a time of downsizing, millions of dollars across the nation are being used for WTU projects."

Robinette said the unit plans to occupy the new campus somewhere between December 2012 and February 2013.