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News | Nov. 30, 2023

NSA's Morrison Center Earns Gold LEED Certification for Sustainability

The Morrison Center, constructed on the National Security Agency (NSA)/Central Security Service (CSS) Washington East Campus, has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification — the first project on the campus to earn the designation.

“The Morrison Center demonstrates that innovative design, functionality, and environmental stewardship can coexist harmoniously to create exceptional spaces for the benefit of both people and the planet,” said Randy Westfall, chief of Installations & Logistics (I&L).

Recent awards bestowed upon one of NSA’s newest buildings is further cementing NSA's Military Construction (MILCON) team as a leader in sustainable and innovative builds.

“Obtaining LEED Gold is a notable achievement, demonstrating that our next-generation operational mission space has been built with attention to both the workforce space and the larger environmental impact of our expansion,” said Jeffrey Williams, the environmental engineer responsible for East Campus sustainability.

Williams noted that the accolades not only highlight the building's outstanding design and functionality, but also demonstrate NSA’s commitment to environmental stewardship and efficient resource management. “The Morrison Center boasts state-of-the-art insulation, high-performance windows, and efficient HVAC systems to minimize energy consumption and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

LEED certification is the premier, globally recognized symbol of sustainable building design and construction. While all the buildings on East Campus are built to be LEED Silver, the Morrison Center is the first NSA-owned building to achieve LEED Gold, according to Williams. This certification signifies that the Morrison Center meets stringent criteria for energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable site development, he said.

The facilities throughout the building feature low-flow fixtures to significantly decrease water usage, as well as use of water from the reclaimed water system in industrial sources, promoting responsible resource management, Williams explained. The structure prioritizes the health and well-being of its occupants by incorporating ample daylight, superior air quality control, and ergonomic design principles, he said.

Additionally, the facility incorporates lush green spaces for storm water management integrated into the East Campus design, along with a rooftop garden and outdoor gathering areas. According to Williams, this was done to foster a connection with nature and provide a serene environment away from the mission tempo.

Finally, during the construction — managed by U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Baltimore District East Campus Integrated Program Office — materials were sustainably sourced. From construction to interior finishes, the building utilizes locally sourced, environmentally friendly materials with recycled content, minimizing the impact on natural resources, Williams said.
Under LEED, an evaluated project scores points across six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environment quality (IEQ), and design innovation. Certification is achieved by documenting compliance with requirements in each category.

“The higher the degree of compliance, the higher the certification level,” Williams said. “Achieving LEED Gold demonstrates a high degree of attention to the sustainable aspects of the building’s construction.”

The certificate marks the latest significant recognition captured by the state-of-the-art building since it opened late last year. The Morrison Center, which serves as the new home for the National Security Operations Center and the Director, also won the Association of General Contractors Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partnering and Collaboration Award and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) Intelligence Community (IC) Facilities Program of the Year.

The Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partnering and Collaboration Award is a highly coveted honor presented annually to construction projects that demonstrate excellence and achieve success by implementing the principles of partnering.

According to MILCON Chief Matt Boren, construction of the 843,000-square foot facility was successful due to six guiding principles established early on: putting the mission first, safety, operational readiness/schedule, quality, teamwork, and team experience.

"This project showcases partnering at its finest," Boren said. "Collaboration and communication among stakeholders and the team's commitment to a 'mission first' mindset resulted in a facility of exceptional quality that will play a vital role in protecting our national security for decades to come."

The IC Facilities Program of the Year award recognizes buildings that demonstrate excellence in facility management, maintenance, and operations. The Morrison Center surpassed other facilities projects in the IC by implementing cutting-edge technologies and systems that optimize energy consumption, enhance occupant comfort, and streamline maintenance processes, Boren said.

By employing intelligent building automation, advanced energy management systems, and efficient waste management strategies, the facility showcases a commitment to operational efficiency and sustainable practices, Boren said.

The Morrison Center is a testament to the possibilities of sustainable architecture and design, according to Westfall.

"The receipt of these awards solidifies NSA's position as a trailblazer in the IC," Westfall said. "By combining architectural ingenuity, operational excellence, and environmental leadership, this extraordinary structure has set new benchmarks for sustainable building practices."

As I&L looks to the future of the East Campus, the Morrison Center stands as an inspiration for architects, developers, and facility managers worldwide, Westfall explained.

MILCON is already applying the lessons learned in collaboration and design to create future structures on East Campus.

“Both the Chiari Center and the Kenny Center are being constructed with the goal to further establish the East Campus as the global state-of-the-art IC campus,” Westfall said.

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