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Harnessing the Energy of the Sun

Charleston District
Published April 16, 2012
The Charleston District is using innovative new technologies, such as these solar panels on the roof of the new Quad Dining Facility at Fort Jackson, in their construction of world-class facilities.

The Charleston District is using innovative new technologies, such as these solar panels on the roof of the new Quad Dining Facility at Fort Jackson, in their construction of world-class facilities.

The Quad Dining Facility (Quad DFAC), a $31 million project, began in June 2010 with an expected completion date this summer. The Quad DFAC is surrounded by four “starships” that house 1,300 Soldiers each and include barracks, classrooms and offices. With its massive capacity and efficiency, the Quad DFAC will be able to feed all 5,200 Soldiers from the four starships three meals per day, in only 90 minutes.

While this is impressive, the most distinctive feature of this building is its ability to produce hot water for the Soldiers by harnessing the sun’s energy.

In an effort to save energy associated with domestic hot water usage, the contractor for the Quad DFAC constructed a solar water heating system known as the Sun Equinox, which uses a vacuum tube array-type solar panel that will provide a 30% savings in energy costs. This system was chosen for its ease of maintenance, simplicity of design, efficiency and positive life-cycle cost characteristics. This technology is new to Fort Jackson, but is becoming more common throughout the nation with the push for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in newly constructed government buildings.

The LEED program provides a guide for design and construction of green buildings. Using green technologies, companies can reduce negative environmental impacts, while jointly saving money on energy costs. LEED certification is a tiered rating system that evaluates buildings on green sustainability.

“All new military buildings must have a LEED silver rating or higher,” stated Max Carroll, Quad DFAC project manager. “This solar water heating system contributes to the Quad DFAC’s certification. While initial installation costs are higher, these technologies are expected to save money over time and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

The American military is leading the race to renewable energy sources. The U.S. Army’s goal is to reach 25% clean power by 2025. To help this initiative, the Army Corps of Engineers has created an Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) to attain this goal.

“The military has recognized its overreliance on fossil fuels,” said Jon Powers, director of outreach for EITF. “The significant strides toward renewable power are seen as operation-necessary, financially-prudent, and mission-critical.”

The Charleston District looks forward to continuing to find ways to eliminate the carbon footprint left by construction.