REC Solar, Lumenergi and Turner Embark on Big Green Federal Projects

REC Solar, Lumenergi and Turner Embark on Big Green Federal Projects

Construction of what's being touted as one of the larger solar carport systems in the U.S., advanced lighting retrofits at four facilities and development of a 14-story, $69 million office building are among the latest green projects launched for the federal government.

REC Solar Inc., which will install a 2.9 MW solar power system at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System campus in Tucson, networked lighting systems designer Lumenergi Inc. and Turner Construction Company announced the projects in the past week.

REC Solar is in the process of designing a solar power system that will form the canopies of carports in seven parking areas at the VA facility. Groundbreaking for the carport-mounted solar power system and the carports that are to support the arrays is scheduled in early 2011, with completion expected before the end of that year.

The installation will join a 302-kW single-axis tracker ground-mounted solar power system, also by REC Solar, that is already on site. Installation of the ground-mounted system finishes later this month, the company said.

The two systems are expected to generate more than 5.2 gigawatts of electricity annually to help power the 900,000-square-foot medical center. REC Solar, a GSA-contractor based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., has 10 active federal contracts and has several others in the pipeline waiting for a green light, a representative said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has aggressively pursued green building projects. In January, the VA announced that 15 medical facilities had received green building certification from Green Globes.

Last fall, President Obama issued an executive order calling for more ambitious goal setting and environmental performance by all government agencies. Recently General Services Administration chief Administrator Martha N. Johnson proposed that government strive for a zero environmental footprint.

According to Lumenergi, its systems help users cut electricity use and costs and  keep a tighter rein on energy consumption throughout a facility or campus, even down to individual light fixtures. Lumenergi also says its systems deliver a return on investment in one to three years, on average.

The company's systems are being installed in the James C. Cleveland Federal Building and the Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse, both in Concord, N.H., and in the Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Reno and the Carson City Federal Building in Carson City, both in Nevada.

The projects, which have already begun, are scheduled for completion by the end of this year. Lumenergi also has retrofit federal buildings in California and Texas.

Last week, Turner said it was awarded the $69 million contract to provide pre-construction and general contracting services for a 649,000-square-foot office building that will be occupied by about 1,300 federal workers.

The structure will be part of a 32-acre mixed-use development called the North Bethesda Center. Completion is set for July 2012, and afterward certification at the silver level will be sought from the U.S. Green Building Council according to its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Image of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System campus in Tucson, courtesy of the facility.