The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has updated a 125-year-old barracks at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall to meet the highest energy standards without changing the building’s historic look.
Building 246 is home to the Regimental Orientation Program for the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the Army’s oldest active-duty infantry unit. The historic building houses incoming soldiers and provides the necessary spaces for the rigorous training essential to The Old Guard’s mission: providing funeral escorts at Arlington National Cemetery and conducting military ceremonies at the White House.
Last updated more than 25 years ago, the building had significant deterioration from continuous heavy use, resulting in leaky windows, inadequate insulation, building drafts and mold, all of which diminished indoor quality and comfort
Bill Tulley, program manager with the Corps of Engineers, said tearing it down and building a new barracks would have been less expensive, but the brick building with a slate roof was given historical deference.
“Soldiers have water-tight rooms that are climate-controlled, and it had failed to the extent it was a disaster for the soldiers and needed to be looked after,” Tulley said. He told InsideNoVa that the interior was fully gutted.
Work began before the COVID-19 pandemic and was finished late last spring, Tully said. “We had gotten most of the work completed before the pandemic took its toll.”
Now, new dedicated outdoor air systems address the diverse needs of each space, from the high humidity in the uniform steam press room to overheating in the attic training rooms. The improved mechanical efficiencies, LED lighting, interior blast windows that outperform code and new wall and roof insulation contribute to a building that meets ASHRAE 189.1, the energy- efficient green building code.
Greg Bordynowski, senior project director and project architect with EYP Architecture and Engineering, said the landmark building is in a historic district, so preservation of its appearance and essence was important.
“You have a lot of these older buildings and they’re based on traditional construction. The solid masonry wall doesn’t perform that badly, but when you start to change the configuration of the way the building seals out moisture, it may have unforeseen effects,” said Bordynowski. He added that EYP’s high-performance building group, known as “The Green Lab,” did an analysis and found a way to prevent moisture from penetrating the building.
“We came up with a system to improve the performance of the wall. We also put progressive collapsed steel in, and offset it slightly to allow the insulation to run continuously. That helped it perform to the best of its capability,” Bordynowski said. “That was one of our goals, to create a seamless moisture barrier.”
With training held in the attic, Bordynowski said the wood roof was redesigned to deflect as much heat as possible.
The historic slate shingles and dark roof absorb solar energy and transmit heat inside to the occupants, he explained. “The entire top floor is directly under the roof, and they all complained how uncomfortable it was. This cool roof system allows the hot air to rise up to the ridge and keeps the roof cooler during summer.”
Builders removed a drop-ceiling in the attic, exposing the rafters, which created a better environment without relying on oversized heating or cooling systems.
The building was initially slated to achieve LEED Silver certification, but The Green Lab’s strategies helped designers achieve LEED Gold certification.
“I’ve been doing government work since the early 2000s, and the insulating performance saw a 47% increase. That’s pretty dramatic,” Bordynowski said. “This building should be in the top percentage of performance by Corps buildings.”
Now, it’s hoped that the only sweat by Old Guard soldiers will be from the arduous training, instead of hot, muggy rooms.