The world headquarters for the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) is located at Offutt Air Force Base (AFB) near Omaha, Nebraska. Five directorates occupy the facility in addition to command and control offices; 800 employees make up 77 working groups housed in the building.
The Air Force Weather Agency has a staff of scientists, forecasters, technicians, and operations personnel who provide weather-related products to all U.S. Army and Air Force units. AFWA does extensive computer processing using data gathered from satellites and other weather instruments. The computer center and 24-hour operations staff are located in the basement, completely below grade, for disaster protection. The headquarters also includes a daytime operations floor with a forecasting area and broadcast studio.
This building houses heavy communication cable infrastructure as well as redundancy for mechanical and electrical systems. It is the third U.S. Air Force building to be LEED certified, and the first to achieve Gold certification.
The AFWA headquarters uses 50% less energy than a typical office building built to code (based on ASHRAE 90.1–2004). Careful siting of the building optimizes sun angles, while sunshades, light shelves, and high-efficiency glazing enhance window performance. Light fixtures are outfitted with low-wattage lamps, electronic ballasts, and occupancy sensors.
An energy-efficient mechanical system with underfloor air distribution allows individuals to control their work environment. In addition, the cooling systems use refrigerants that do not contribute to ozone depletion or global warming.
Before occupancy, the building was flushed out to remove lingering contaminants from the construction process. Adhesives, paints, carpets, and wood products all have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Increased ventilation is provided at copy centers, and carbon dioxide is monitored throughout the facility.
Areas on each floor are designated for collecting recyclables, and bulk-collection areas are provided onsite. During construction, over 95% of the waste generated onsite was diverted from landfills, with a large percentage of this due to the reuse of the existing runway. More than 20% of the products specified were manufactured locally, including structural steel, metal decking, concrete, and face brick.
The team avoided the construction of new parking lots by using an adjacent abandoned runway for parking. Stormwater detention ponds maintain discharge at pre-development rates and help maintain an area more than twice the building footprint as permanent open space. Preferred parking is provided for eco-friendly vehicles, and racks and shower facilities are available for bicyclists. Finally, the roofing is a highly reflective white membrane, which minimizes the heat island effect.
Outdoor irrigation was eliminated by the selection of native and adapted plant species. Indoor water use was reduced by more than 30% through the use of ultra-low-flow lavatory faucets and waterless urinals.