Abilene, Texas is regularly listed as one of America’s most livable small towns. Sitting about 180 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area and with a population of 125,182, Abilene is considered the economic center of 22 counties in West Texas. According to their official tourism website, Abilene is “big on what matters” including history, culture, and hospitality.
The United States Air Force also calls Abilene home with the Dyess Air Force Base on the southern edge of town. Dyess is home to the Air Force’s B-1B, C-130, and T-38 planes. The 7th Bomb Wing on the base maintains operations of the B-1B aircraft and conducts training for personnel to fly those planes. In all, over 4,500 military personnel are assigned to Dyess with 491 civilian employees also employed there.
Dyess is also known as being one of the greenest bases in the United States Air Force. It has the distinction of being the first Department of Defense operation to use renewable energy and now uses both wind and biomass energy as power sources.
Known as one of the greenest Air Force bases, it only makes sense that Green Insight was brought in to consult on one of their building projects: A temporary lodging facility. This project consisted of 16 units in 2 different buildings. This facility would serve as temporary lodging for service members seeking permanent housing on or off base, on a special trip to secure housing, or for those awaiting the shipment of their household goods.
As part of the project, we worked with the United States Air Force and Tejas Premier Building Contractor to help Dyess keep its reputation as a green Air Force base. This included working with all parties on
- LEED for Homes credit verification
- Testing during construction
- QAD review
- Energy efficient recommendations
- Building material assessments
- Review of construction documents
- Review of project submissions
One of the biggest challenges this project faced was the passage of time between plans being made and actual construction. Plans had been made 3 years before any work commenced and were no longer compliant with the updated LEED for Homes certification requirements.
Like most projects, the Dyess Temporary Lodging Facility also had a fixed budget. But unlike other projects, it would literally take an act of Congress to expand the budget, a long and arduous process.
Finally, the contractor chosen for the job by the United States Air Force didn’t have LEED for Homes project experience. They were also hampered by the requirements of highly specialized equipment including blast-proof windows.
Because of our longstanding relationship with the United States Green Building Council, we were able to work with them when it came to the outdated plans for the project. We were able to negotiate that the project would be registered under the LEED for Homes requirements for which it was designed.
We then worked closely with the contractor in all aspects of this project, especially in getting them caught up on the LEED requirements they were not familiar with. While most of these requirements are right in the plans, many are not, and rely on a contractor’s knowledge of the LEED for Homes certification process.
During the construction process, we ran into several periods where deficiencies were found and needed to be corrected. This, of course, came down to budget. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the contract, anything that ran over budget would come out of the contractor’s pocket. We were able to work with the contractor on finding cost-effective solutions.
At the end of the project, the Dyess Temporary Lodging Facility was able to certify under the old LEED for Homes requirements, and the contractor maintained its profit due to cost-effective solutions.
In all, the project was awarded LEED for Homes Silver certification, and the Dyess Air Force Base was able to maintain its reputation as being committed to green initiatives.