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NEWS | Nov. 21, 2019

Innovative partnership cuts NJ Guard facility costs

By Mark Olsen New Jersey National Guard

GLASSBORO, N.J. – An award-winning partnership pairing the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (NJDMAVA), the New Jersey Army National Guard (NJARNG) and the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University is as unique as it is innovative.

That innovation was highlighted Nov. 19, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Sustainable Facilities Center (SFC) at the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University.

"The partnership between Rowan University and NJDMAVA is an innovative approach to sustainment, modernization, and restoration of the NJARNG's real property inventory," said Army Maj. Jeanne M. Falchek, planning and programming chief, Construction and Facilities Management Office, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

"Our collaboration allows for the Army Guard to fulfill federal and state requirements while offering students the opportunity to learn and contribute to real-world projects. The students provide new insight and outside-the-box thinking while working on NJDMAVA projects that often result in reductions in energy use, cost savings and preventative maintenance efficiencies," said Falchek.

The NJARNG-Rowan partnership began 10 years when Bill Mangan and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Tom Comyack, both with NJDMAVA's Construction and Facilities Management Office, decided to be proactive in meeting new sustainability goals set by the Defense Department. NJDMAVA reached out to New Jersey state colleges and universities to see if anyone could help.

The staff at Rowan University's College of Engineering saw this as an opportunity for their students, who began performing energy audits and solar and wind assessments. The program evolved into a 10-year agreement to conduct comprehensive building energy audits for NJARNG armories and other facilities.

"The NJARNG facilities portfolio consists of 1.95 million square feet of real estate, including 70 buildings. Among them are vehicle maintenance facilities and 28 armories. Most of the buildings are 60-70 years old and designed for full-time usage," said Falchek. "As the NJARNG mission changes, so do our needs for high-tech facilities to train our Soldiers."

Since 2012, the intern programs have grown to include energy planning, building information modeling, facility condition assessments and facilities management – all to improve property management and learning opportunities for students.

"The Rowan University intern programs provides us with both continuity and a fresh perspective with each new class," said Falchek. "The NJARNG and Rowan University partnership has been extremely effective at reducing, or avoiding costs of projects and deliverables that would otherwise require costly architecture or engineering services and contracts."

Students evaluate NJARNG facilities to determine ways to make the buildings more efficient and more resilient.

All these efforts are focused on helping the NJARNG become a more sustainable, mission-ready force.

Those efforts are paying off.

The energy audits conducted by the Rowan students, which include energy modeling with software, cost less than 14 cents per square foot versus the typical industry cost of 25 cents per square foot.

Many of the technical studies, documents and formal reports could cost $100,000 to $150,000 from an architecture or engineering firm; the center is doing these projects with its established funding.

And the NJARNG-Rowan collaboration is being noticed.

On Dec. 5, 2019, the NJARNG-Rowan partnership will be among the winners of the 2019 Army Community Partnership Awards at a ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.

"This is exciting news for the Army and for our community partners," said Alex Beehler, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment. "Our partners help us enhance readiness, create efficiencies and modernize our Army. We thank them for all they do."

In 2016, at a similar ceremony in the Hall of Heroes, the NJARNG and Rowan University were recognized for forming one of the five best Army community partnerships in the nation. They also won the Energy Department's Federal Energy and Water Management Award.

Back at the ribbon-cutting, Falchek sums up the partnership.

"This a proud, joyous moment for everyone and we look forward to the continued success of the center and our partnership with Rowan University."