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NEWS | March 19, 2010

Miramar Brig Construction Addresses Environmental Concerns

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Thompson, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

Environmental concerns are an important priority in the construction of state-of-the-art facilities at Navy Consolidated Brig Miramar (NCBM), scheduled for completion in February 2011.

The construction was mandated by the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) that will close correctional facilities at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Edwards Air Force Base and Kirtland Air Force Base and relocate up to 200 prisoners to NCBM.

"A place like Miramar is a very environmentally sensitive habitat," said Lt. Michael Guzzi, director of Naval Facility Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest Facilities Engineering Acquisition Division (FEAD) Point Loma. 

A large population of California gnatcatchers, a threatened bird species, calls Miramar home. In order to preserve this species, special environmental requirements must be observed.

NAVFAC Southwest obtained 8.9 acres of conservation land for a new nesting site to accommodate the gnatcatcher. This land is part of a larger 32-acre conservation area located in the San Dieguito River Park near Poway, according to Rob Chichester, Public Works Department Point Loma environmental manager.

"Consolidating these conservation [areas] provides a larger contiguous protected habitat for the California gnatcatcher," Chichester said.

The gnatcatcher's nesting site also needed to be cleared quickly to prevent impacting the bird's breeding season. Workers participated in biological training to learn how to properly protect the site during the transition, said Albert Valdivia, senior project manager at Clark Construction Group, which was awarded the project contract.

"The goal is to make sure that we are caring for the environment by creating a habitable environment area," Guzzi said.

The more than 98,000 square foot expansion is designed to meet the Silver Certification from the United States Green Building Council, Valdivia added. 

Construction debris is constantly sorted and sent to recycling centers. 

"The contractor plans on diverting up to 20,000 tons of waste that would otherwise go to landfills," Valdivia said. 

Asphalt from the old demolished parking lot was recycled for construction of the new parking area. Concrete masonry units used in the construction of prisoner cells will contain recycled and regionally harvested materials. The new facilities will also utilize low flow toilets that will reduce water usage by half, Valdivia said.

In addition, the project incorporates designs to increase natural daylight in the facility, use water efficient landscaping and install high-efficiency mechanical systems to conserve power, Valdivia added.

Security and safety of prisoners and construction personnel during the expansion is another important priority, Guzzi said. 

"The FEAD team will make every effort to ensure a quality product is provided to the customer while maintaining a laser focus on safety throughout the project," he said.

Additional guards are posted at certain construction locations along with inner fences to keep prisoners and construction personnel separated. The contractor also has a full-time site safety and health officer on-site during construction. Since the beginning of construction in November, the project has gone 129 days without lost time or recordable injury, Valdivia said.

"We put a lot of planning and effort in this," said H.W. Bashore, NCBM command evaluator. "It will be great to see everything come to fruition." 

NCBM is constructing a new Level 1 male facility that will house 120 males awaiting trial and serving short-term sentences. The new Level 2 women's facility will house 80 women serving sentences from 31 days to seven years. NCBM's expansion also includes a new dining facility, a corrections programs support facility and a labor and industry building. 

Commissioned July 19, 1989, NCBM is one of two Navy consolidated brigs. NCBM is designed as a state-of-the-art, direct supervision, Level 1, 2 and 3 (for women prisoners serving sentences of more than seven years) correctional facility that will be able to accommodate 600 prisoners from all military branches with the completion of the expansion project. The brig currently employs 222 staff members including civilian and military personnel from all branches.