VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.--Officials cut the ribbon Feb. 27 ceremonially opening a brand new education center that will help Airmen stationed at this central coast base achieve their personal and professional education goals.
The $14.2 million center replaced a 60-year-old elementary school campus, which had been used as the education center for more than 40 years.
"We hear the dollar value, and I just can't stress how precious those dollars are in today's fiscal environment," said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander. "The fact that we get to do military construction at all, especially something for the quality of our Airmen and their families, says a lot about the importance we place on education."
One of the center's first customers was Senior Airman Antoine Marshall, 30th Force Support Squadron, who joined the Air Force four years ago with an associate degree in criminal justice.
"I just took the analyzing and interpreting literature CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exam," said Marshall, who's pursuing a bachelor's degree in organizational management. "It was my first one--I passed it. I'm extremely happy!"
The 38,384-square-foot facility includes 20 classrooms, computer lab, testing center, and 75-seat auditorium, as well as offices for various colleges and universities serving the Vandenberg community.
"I think the facility is great," said Marshall. "Overall, it provides a better environment to work and study, and it's just comfortable."
The design-build project was constructed by Corps contractor Teehee-Straub, a joint-venture team from Oceanside, Calif.
"The design was quite extensive, just due to the detail and the location," said Keith Hamilton, project executive for Teehee-Straub. "The site work was very challenging, and I think that was something that brought a lot of character to this building."
Teehee-Straub's 21st century design included sustainable development and energy efficiencies, such as light pollution reduction and water use reduction.
"This is a sustainable building," said Col. Kim Colloton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander. "We can build our buildings smartly, so they can do more; it's more [money] that can go back into the base."
During construction, 75 percent of the construction and demolition debris was diverted from landfills and redirected back to the manufacturing process as reusable and recyclable material. Walk-off mats, exhaust systems and filtered heating and cooling improves indoor air quality. Low-flow fixtures and faucets, high-efficiency drip irrigation and drought-tolerant landscaping reduce potable water use by more than 40 percent. All are efficiencies the contractor believes will achive a LEED Silver rating (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, a Green Building Council rating system).
"We're just proud to be part of this," said Teehee-Straub managing partner Richard Straub. "The Corps of Engineers is one of our favorite customers, and we love supporting the Air Force in doing a job that will educate a lot of servicemen."