The Sustainable Design Center

Bio-regionally Appropriate Architecture Collaboration and Planning for a Cleaner, Healthier Planet

Fort Hood Environmental Training Center

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Firms: Benjamin C. Obregon Architect (Design) and Steinbomer & Associates A.I.A.

Project Status: Construction Documents completed in 2001. Project canceled after September 11, 2001

Project description: 4000 s.f. post and beam straw bale bio-remediation training facility for the U.S Army. The building (which would be the first straw bale building constructed by the U.S. military) had the following goals:


  • The project should be a showcase project for the Department of Defense regarding green building principals and design. As such, the project shall follow the “LEED’ guidelines with a goal of achieving a platinum rating.
  • The project is designed in such a way as to be expandable.
  • A materials recycling area will be dedicated on site with separate areas for wood scraps (wood pieces over 2’-0” in length should be re-used or recycled), paper, aluminum, plastic and glass.
  • Building design incorporates natural ventilation, daylighting and passive heating and cooling.
  • Landscaping incorporates buffalo grass and native, low water usage plants with a drip irrigation system.
  • The parking lot is designed with pervious pavers.
  • A rainwater collection system to be used for irrigation is priced as an option. This system will include 6” galvanized gutters and downspouts with PVC underground piping to a 10,000 gallon fiberglass cistern. Valves, gauges, a compression tank and motor as required will be included in the pricing.
  • In order to reduce fossil fuel consumption and total embodied energy (measured in BTU’s) related to this project, priorities will be given to re-used or recycled building materials and to materials manufactured and supplied within a 500-mile radius of the site.
  • All interior finishes (paints, stains and/or sealers as applicable) are low VOC or zero VOC.
  • Adhesives shall be water-based.
  • Boric acid and diatomaceous earth are used as insect treatment. A steel mesh termite barrier is utilized on the building exterior.
  • Electrical panels will be located 10 feet (minimum) from any continuously occupied areas and wiring will include EMF reducing wiring methods.
  • Millwork is formaldehyde free (solid wood, stainless steel or tile countertops)
  • Gypsum plaster is used on the interior walls. The exterior walls are concrete stucco.
  • All windows are clad, double hung, double pane with  low e glazing. All windows on the north side of the building will be operable to facilitate natural ventilation and maximize interior daylighting.
  • Full-lite French doors with double pane low e glazing are use to facilitate daylighting.
  • The roof is framed with pre-engineered trusses
  • The building will have a Living Roof
  • Portions of the building will have a 26-gauge standing seam metal roof over 7/16” decking with a factory applied radiant barrier.
  • Insulation will be R-30 minimum (cotton batts blown cellulose or sprayed foam-soy based)
  • Restroom/shower rooms have exhaust fans rated for continuous use and vented directly to the outside. These fans are tied to a humidistat.
  • HVAC system will be geothermal. Duct system has long radius curves or turning vanes at each turn. Conference room, classroom and administration office have separate programmable thermostats and dedicated return air ducts.
  • Exterior lighting is be connected to motion detectors.
  • Interior lighting is task based and shall utilize long life fluorescent bulbs where possible.