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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s fourth building earns top rating for energy and environmental design

In a ceremony Aug. 3, 2017, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force announced its fourth building has achieved the rare distinction of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The $40.8 million, 224,000 square-foot fourth building, which was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., opened in June 2016, and houses four galleries – Presidential, Research and Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Learning Nodes.

The Gold certification was earned in part by successfully incorporating an innovative design with locally sourced building materials, including a focus on those made from recycled content; optimized energy performance from new mechanical and electrical systems; and water efficient landscaping.

Some notable statistics regarding the fourth building’s energy and environmental design include:

91% of building materials were locally sourced
75% of non-hazardous waste was recycled
45% of building materials came from recycled content
39% in energy savings from new mechanical and electrical systems
36% decrease in water usage

Although the building was designed and built with environmental considerations in mind, the project was only contractually obligated to achieve LEED Silver certification. However, the fourth building planning, design and construction teams came together with museum staff and implemented additional measures to obtain the additional points necessary for LEED Gold certification.

The team worked tirelessly to ensure the fourth building was designed in a way that fully maximized its efficiency, said BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc., President & CEO Brian Curtin.

“The primary design strategies used to achieve LEED Gold were two-fold – reduce consumption and replace resources,” said Curtin. “By incorporating efficient lighting, mechanical and plumbing systems, the fourth building is seeing a 39 percent energy cost savings and preserving more than 135,000 gallons of water a year.”

Turner Construction Company, the primary contractor on the job, made it a priority to use as many environmentally-friendly building materials as possible from around the region.

“Nearly 40 percent of the total building materials content was manufactured with recycled materials,” said Kyle Rooney, Senior Vice President, Turner Construction Company. “Additionally, over 30 percent of the total building materials were extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.” 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Louisville District, which executes a $1 billion program annually, managed the project. However, since the U.S. Green Building Council unveiled their rating system in 2000, only a handful of USACE projects have been awarded the coveted LEED Gold certification. This rare honor is something to be extremely proud of, said Lt. Col. Robert Newbauer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Deputy Commander.

“What an accomplishment by all the members of the project delivery team,” said Newbauer. “What truly sets this project apart from others is that this particular addition was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation, and is the first non-appropriated funds project that the Louisville District has participated in and achieved a LEED Gold rating.”

According to National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Director, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson, achieving LEED Gold certification is a win-win situation for both the museum and the environment.

“The museum is filled with stories of Airmen who have gone the extra mile to serve our country, so it is only fitting that we go the extra mile to achieve LEED Gold certification in the fourth building,” said Hudson. “These environmentally friendly measures not only serve the museum well by keeping our utility bills down, but also allow us to do our part in taking care of our planet and preserving its natural resources.”

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit