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Aluminum

Power of defense

By Julie Sammarco

New DoD campus designed to meet BRAC and LEED criteria

April 2012 - The Department of Defense's new Washington Headquarters Services' building, known as BRAC 133 at Mark Center, is a secure, energy- and operationally efficient 1.8 million-square-foot facility that opened in fall 2011. The project, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes 15-story and 17-story offices that are the Corps.’ tallest and the first designed and built to LEED Gold criteria.

Located on a 16-acre campus in Alexandria, Va., the $1 billion project is part of the U.S. Army's Fort Belvoir complex. The facility's performance features meet the requirements of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act and contribute to its Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System.

Congress created the BRAC process in 1988 to aid the DoD in saving operations and maintenance costs while meeting anti-terrorism security standards. Recycled aluminum, among other materials, is helping this project succeed in meeting LEED standards.

Help from materials
The project’s window and curtainwall systems are manufactured with a high percentage of recycled aluminum content. Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis., manufactured and engineered more than 100,000 square feet of 7000i BHM Series windows and more than 35,000 square feet of 8000i BHM Series to create the project’s curtainwall.

The curtainwall systems on BRAC 133 at Mark Center include a total of 332,040 pounds of aluminum with a weighted average of 75 percent recycled content, according to Heather West, public relations for Wausau. The aluminum alloys used in the curtainwall systems' framing and components were 6063-T6, 6005-T5 and 6061-T6.

Aluminum was chosen for this project for many reasons. According to West, “aluminum is an extremely versatile material for engineering and constructing of building products. It has a smooth surface and superior resistance to corrosion. It is 23.2 times stiffer than vinyl and 7.2 times stiffer than wood. It is not susceptible to the instability and deterioration caused by shrinking and swelling. It’s also approximately one-third the weight of steel, iron, copper or brass. It is quick and simple to extrude, machine and fabricate into virtually any form. These characteristics contribute to lower costs of finished aluminum parts as well as lower shipping and handling expenses.” She also notes aluminum makes an excellent base for high-quality coatings that ensure a long-lasting, easy-to-maintain appearance and accepts a wide range of surface finishes and protective coatings.

Steel also played a role in the project’s construction and meeting LEED criteria. About 65,731 pounds of steel reinforce the system and meet the building's high-performance requirements.

Additionally, the framing on the BRAC 133 at Mark Center is composed of 75 percent recycled content using a two-coat polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) silver mica paint. One-hundred percent of the volatile organic compounds released in the painting process are captured and destroyed with 98.5 percent efficiency at the factory—before the materials arrive at the building site, according to a Wausau press release.

The project, particularly the windows and curtainwall, is designed for compliance with the U.S. Department of Defense's requirements. Wausau's curtainwall system also contributes to daylighting, energy efficiency and occupant comfort prescribed by the LEED Rating System for new construction.

Beyond metal, other materials also helped the project reach its secure and efficient standards.

Insulating glass was used for windows to optimize solar control and visible light transmittance. Insulated units optimize thermal performance to manage unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. For improved thermal performance, these products also feature a polyamide nylon structural thermal barrier.

Keeping with LEED Gold criteria, the building is designed to consume 30 percent less energy than a comparable, traditionally constructed office building.

Related project requirements included establishing "a strong campus-like atmosphere by protecting and enhancing natural environment and common open spaces and adopting flexible design for future changes," according to a Wausau press release.

Representing nearly 6.3 million square feet of building space and an overall construction cost of approximately $4 billion, the towers—connected at the tenth level—have become one of the most-visible landmarks on the city's west end and are intended to present a modern, progressive sense of strength and stability. MM

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