Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Air Guard officials break ground for new readiness center

by Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AFPN) -- Officials broke ground on a $52 million Air National Guard Readiness Center expansion here Nov. 19.

When completed, the four-story complex will unite the existing ANGRC here with its Air Guard offices in Arlington, Va.

Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Air National Guard director, said the expansion on Andrews reflects new realities in force protection since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The reason we are here today is that, after 9/11, force protection became a major issue, especially in the city," he said. He explained that the Base Realignment and Closure commission moved government offices at risk of terrorist attack away from downtown areas.

An added benefit from the project is that the Air Guard will have all nine of its directorate offices under one roof. The directorates serve the Air Guard's day-to-day operations of 88 flying units and more than 200 geographically-separated units.

"It will give the commander of the ANGRC a chance to have a span of control over all the people that work for him, and it will streamline and make more orderly the process of command," McKinley said.

The centralized ANGRC campus will be occupied by more than 1,100 airmen and federal employees by September 2011. Clarke Construction of Bethesda, Md., has the contract for the expansion.

"It will be one of the most sustainable and energy efficient (buildings) that the Air Guard has built to date," said Ben Lawless, chief of the engineering division in the Air Guard's Installation and Mission Support directorate.

Energy-saving features include interior lighting that will adjust automatically with the amount of natural daylight. Storm water will be recycled and filtered through a special drainage system before it's discharged. Air conditioning and heating controls will be located at work stations and fed underneath the floor which, officials said, provides better occupant comfort and energy efficiency.

Officials will have the project certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a nationally-accepted benchmark for green buildings.

"It's going to set the example for energy conservation, which is really important to everyone," Mr. Lawless said. "I think it's also going to set the tone for the future of the Air Guard in terms of facilities that can be reconfigured for new occupants and new missions and functions."

Lawless explained that moveable wall partitions will allow occupants to simply reconfigure their office space to meet future mission requirements. Officials also hope to lay out an open-working environment that fosters teamwork.

The new building will be landscaped with a variety of native plants and trees, and it will be next to Conaway Hall, the existing ANGRC building.

Conaway Hall opened in 1985 and was renamed in 1991 after retired Lt. Gen. John Conaway. General Conaway, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, is a former Air Guard director and chief of the National Guard Bureau. He helped advocate for the ANGRC's original construction. Prior to that, the initial activation of an Air Guard support center was in 1976.