by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A team of building and landscape experts from Air Force Space Command spent a few days in June looking at the exteriors and the interiors of Peterson Air Force Base facilities.
It was part of the Facilities Excellence Program competition where installations are graded on their guidelines and standards for their facilities. The team visits every other year.
“This is an opportunity to look at your investment, your community planning and your long-range plans and how an AFSPC installation is looking from a technical and improvement standpoint,” Col. Bart Hedley, who led the AFSPC team, said before the start of the tour.
The Facilities Excellence Program, which started in the early 1990s, was set up so that installations would keep high standards with regard to the quality of the workplace. In the past several years, the program has evolved to include sustainable concepts for energy savings and making facilities energy efficient from the design of the building to the landscape of the site. And, it’s not just about bragging rights – there is a cash prize for the installation with the best facilities program.
Since 2004, Peterson has won $500,000 in the Facilities Excellence Recognition Program for its facilities excellence and for staying on top of new Department of Defense sustainable directives. The money has been used to build Peak View Park, construct a canopy at the Cyber Café in the Airmen dormitory area to provide Wi-Fi access and add to the trailhead for the War Fit running trail, all in accordance with Peterson AFB’s own Facilities Excellence Plan.
Colonel Hedley’s team looked at the big picture – how the base would look to a visitor – and examined the nitty-gritty details such as how signs are placed inside and outside of facilities.
“We are trying to do away with impromptu advertising and marketing,” Colonel Hedley said.
The team highlighted six buildings, including the fire station, the mental health facility and the mission support building as areas of excellence that follow the Facilities Excellence Plan for the base. The mental health building, for example, uses a skylight to light areas of the building, thereby saving energy and money. The fire station was noted for its impeccable upkeep and its lack of temporary sign clutter.
The team will announce a large installation winner of the $200,000 Padden Award cash prize in the fall.
Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, called Peterson a “showcase base.”
“We get that feedback a lot,” he said, “particularly from people going back to the late ‘60s and ‘70s. This used to be a dusty field. Now it’s a beautiful installation, and we are proud of that and the work that has gone on for several decades to make it that way.”
Peterson was the first installation to update its Facilities Excellence Plan to meet DoD directives and include sustainable construction criteria, making energy savings a consideration in everything the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron does. Peterson AFB is building its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver rated facility — the new child development center — which provides a more energy efficient sustainable building, said Randy Hawke, 21st CES architect.
Peterson facilities should be a place where Peterson personnel can work in first class facilities, and be proud of the environment and the facilities they work in, Mr. Hawke said.
“We’ve got good design efforts on all of our projects,” he said. “It’s all about energy savings.”
Sustainability is more than a buzz phrase, Mr. Hawke said. It is part of the overall Air Force energy plan. It incorporates low-water use landscaping, skylights and interior design including choosing carpets with a recycled backing to minimize landfill waste. The plan includes the use of natural buffers, like the new plaza area at the 21st Space Wing Headquarters building, where large boulders and berms are part of the design. The plan also includes the use of permeable pavers, minimizing storm water runoff and xeriscape landscapes that do not require water.
“It’s still about aesthetics and how the base looks,” Mr. Hawke said. “It’s a matter of keeping the architectural aesthetics and appeal of the base and still coming down with energy savings.”
Five tips to facilities excellence
1. Keep corridors clear for pedestrian traffic. These areas should not be used for garbage collection or storage.
2. Photographs, posters and paintings hung on interior walls or outside individual workspaces must be matted and framed with a black or aluminum framing and shall be a good quality. Material coloring and finish shall be consistent throughout each facility.
3. Keep books, files and reports below the “view plane” of systems furniture partition walls or stored neatly on top of file cabinets. The only things allowed above a storage bin are plants. More information on plants can be found on the FEP website under the interior design section.
4. Workstation partitions outside individual workspaces should be kept clear of personal artwork, notices, picnic flyers, etc. Temporary signage should be avoided.
5. Turn out the lights at the end of the day and if you see lights that are on that are not needed, turn them off.