Key Takeaways from the 136th NGAUS Conference

by Pete Karnowski on September 12, 2014

Windsor Locks National GuardTwo weeks ago, I was in Chicago for the 136th Annual National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) Conference. It’s the must-attend event for anyone who works in the defense industry, particularly with national security and disaster response. I’ve found this conference to be the best opportunity for exchanging information with our citizen soldiers and colleagues from around the country, specifically as it relates to the National Guard and the companies that support it.

The theme of the conference was The National Guard: Now More than Ever, which is the same message the organization has lived by throughout the yearTight budgets and winding-down wars are changing the defense landscape, and the Guard is a common-sense, cost-effective, ready-to-work solution. Most speakers addressed the conference theme and other military and homeland security issues, including overseas operations, domestic missions, equipment modernization, current fiscal challenges, and future Guard roles and missions.

The one speaker who stood out to me was the keynote, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. In his powerful message, he said the country may be overlooking the severity of current threats because it is tired of war after 13 years. He asked NGAUS members to help him convince citizens and lawmakers that now is not the time to cut military spending, referring back to the theme of the conference. You can view his full speech, along with the speeches of other presenters, on the NGAUS YouTube channel.

I had the opportunity to speak with many National Guard leaders about facility issues common to the United States and its territories. Our discussions focused primarily on how facility issues affect the readiness of our soldiers, who perform state and federal missions like disaster response and overseas deployments. The National Guard is seen by many as the most relevant force for responding to 21st century challenges. But many of the National Guard facilities were built in the ’50s and ’60s — during the Cold War — and aren’t up to current health and safety codes. Our soldiers are expected to train, be war-ready and immediately respond to natural disasters or crises, but have mostly aging facilities without a lot of space or today’s technology — both of which are requirements for a successful facility and both of which are vital to troop readiness.

Key leaders also inquired about the types of architect-engineering-construction and energy projects being performed to support facilities for our citizen soldiers, and how we can help the National Guard save money through sustainment, restoration and modernization (SRM) projects, energy-savings measures, the microgrid, renewable energy projects and technology. By designing buildings to meet LEED standards, projects can realize significant energy and cost savings. For example, a newly constructed squadron operations facility in Hawaii was the first National Guard building to earn LEED Platinum certification, resulting in a 75 percent reduction in energy use and offsetting electrical costs by 60 percent.

As a retired military colonel myself — and having worked with the National Guard for decades — I always look forward to reconnecting with past colleagues and making new connections within the National Guard corporate support community. It was great to see the variety of companies represented at the conference, including small and large businesses, each providing a unique contribution to support the National Guard. Many admirably employ former Guard personnel.

Did you make it to the NGAUS Conference in Chicago, too? If so, I’d love to hear more about your key takeaways. Drop a note in the comments below, or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Pete Karnowski, LEED AP, is the Army National Guard program manager and senior project manager in the federal division of Burns & McDonnell. As a retired colonel with more than 26 years of military service, he understands ARNG requirements and procedures at state and national program levels. He has extensive experience with the ARNG Design Guides, NG Pamphlet 415-12, NG Regulation 415-5 and United Facility Criteria.


LEED Leads to Big Energy Savings for Military Buildings

by Pete Karnowski on September 8, 2014

F-22 Hangar Squadron Operations Facility, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-HickamThe topic of energy savings for the military isn’t new, but in light of recent budget cuts for the U.S. Army, there’s a renewed focus on lowering operations costs for new and existing National Guard facilities. Top it off with a government mandate to design all new National Guard buildings to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards, and that can lead to big energy savings for military buildings.

When a building achieves LEED certification, it demonstrates that it meets environmental goals for sustainability, which inherently lowers operations costs in the form of reduced energy waste. Part of obtaining LEED certification involves a rigorous commissioning process where an independent commissioning agent determines that it is designed, constructed and delivered with its systems working the way they’re intended according to the owner’s requirements.

In order for a project to earn LEED certification, there are specific prerequisites it must satisfy, and points are awarded based on those prerequisites. The number of points the project earns determines its level of LEED certification.

Because of the complexities involved in designing a building to the highest certification level, it’s often cost-prohibitive for projects to achieve LEED Platinum status. But a newly constructed squadron operations facility in Hawaii recently became the first Air National Guard facility to earn LEED Platinum certification. And it didn’t break the bank in the process.

With sustainability at the forefront of planning this facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, it’s setting the standard for superior sustainability for squadron operations.

Through a combination of photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof and solar panel-covered parking shade structures, our team helped generate a 75 percent reduction in energy use and offset electrical costs by 60 percent. PV systems are often too expensive to install and offer little ROI. But with the high cost of electricity on the island, and abundant sunshine, it paid off here. This facility not only achieved LEED Platinum status, it also exceeded the Energy Policy Act’s mandated 40 percent savings with help from high-efficiency HVAC systems, controls, a superior building envelope and smart metering.

The energy saving benefits of LEED aren’t limited to new buildings. Existing National Guard buildings can also benefit from LEED through a process called LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED EBOM), where a previously constructed facility undergoes the LEED certification process to reduce operations costs and enhance energy efficiencies. And when done right, it can yield the impressive results that we saw with the Hickam project.

What is your experience working with LEED? Have you seen significant benefits in the form of energy savings? How do you see the role of LEED changing, if at all, in the face of budget cuts for the military? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you’d like to discuss further, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

Pete Karnowski, LEED AP, is the Army National Guard program manager and senior project manager in the federal division of Burns & McDonnell. As a retired colonel with more than 26 years of military service, he understands ARNG requirements and procedures at state and national program levels. He has extensive experience with the ARNG Design Guides, NG Pamphlet 415-12, NG Regulation 415-5 and United Facility Criteria.

Other posts you might be interested in:

3 Reasons Facility Managers Should Care About Commissioning

US Military Soldiering Up With Energy Efficiency and Renewables Implementation

Military Facilities Reap Huge Benefits From Using LEED, Says Independent Study


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