The US Army Corps of Engineers Brigade Headquarters construction project at the Ft. Riley Army Base in Kansas was designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and net-zero energy performance. This green-field project included 550 kW of solar-PV plus 30 kW of wind turbines and various energy efficiency measures. Our role was engineer-of-record and general contractor for the renewable energy systems.
Design Rationale and System Architecture: This project was a proof-of-concept for the US Army and Army Corps of Engineers. This was one of the first LEED-certified combat-focused buildings in the Army’s portfolio, and the only one (at that time) in the US Midwest employing renewable energy to achieve those goals. The site had limited space available for installing renewable energy systems, so the parking canopies were an ideal fit to the site plan. The separation of connection points reduced line losses, allowing the system to operate more efficiently.
The project integrated nine large parking canopies and five wind turbines into a diesel-hybrid, islanding facility. The Brigade Headquarters is capable of islanding from the base electrical grid with the PV operating in grid-following hybrid mode in parallel with the building’s backup generators. The solar-PV included both rooftop and structured canopy systems, with a portion of the array interconnected to the building distribution and a portion connected on the line side of the meter to the base distribution at distribution voltage.
Project Challenges: The project required close coordination with the military and the general contractor over the course of the 18-month project. The building construction was on a very tight schedule with a limited deployment footprint between two adjacent office buildings. The need to close the parking lots for the adjacent buildings for certain installation tasks made logistics even more challenging. The harsh winter weather required innovative and thoughtful means and methods to get the work done to the stringent military specification on schedule and on budget.