Supporting the Heart of the U.S. Military through Facilities Planning

November 10, 2010

By Larry Norve, Director of Professional Services

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
– George Washington, first annual address to Congress, 1790.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of the U.S. military is the Pentagon. And, ensuring the health of this building (essentially the largest office building in the world) is an important task that takes a lot of preparation and forethought.

The Pentagon is maintained by Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), which supports more than 8.5 million square feet of facilities – including support buildings, outside areas and the Pentagon Memorial. All military branches and the Department of Defense are housed within the campus, and the Pentagon is basically a self-contained universe – with restaurants, a post office, CVS, Best Buy, a dry cleaners and an athletic center. In general, the Pentagon buildings are in good condition because unsatisfactory facility conditions within the structure can seriously impair the performance of the Department of Defense (DoD) mission.

Like in any other office building, facility managers need to maintain accurate data on the current condition of the Pentagon’s facilities and its associated systems – allowing for long-term planning and bringing the Pentagon up to modern building standards and codes. However, some of the challenges facing the Pentagon are security, access, timing of repairs, types of space, and size. To combat these issues, WHS requires objective facility condition data in order to develop capital plans and projects – and maintain current funding levels which will help to prevent the deterioration of the facility assets. Facilities capital planning and management is critical to an organization of this size, providing the ability to spend valuable funds on the right projects and avoid costly downtime due to emergency repairs.

VFA is helping to conduct a facility condition assessment (FCA) for the Pentagon over a five-year period, as well as providing related consulting services for prioritization and project planning. The FCA includes identification of immediate and long-term cost liabilities for deferred maintenance, building component lifecycle renewal, code compliance and functional inadequacies. VFA is documenting current building deficiencies, advising of corrective actions, and estimating the associated cost for repair, renewal and code compliance.

Something that all facility managers need to consider is how they can determine where building systems are in their lifecycle so that they may keep the newly renovated and modernized areas of the building compliant with current codes. In the Pentagon’s large-scale case, this has allowed the facility to identify short-term maintenance requirements and to track new codes for upcoming projects.

The United States celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, honoring more than 24.9 million military veterans. VFA and a host of other organizations continue to honor these veterans by helping to support the mission of the Pentagon, this critical building at the heart of the military, by maintaining satisfactory facility conditions and developing a five-year capital plan. For other examples of how Federal buildings can optimize their investments in their facilities and manage large, dispersed facility portfolios, please visit VFA’s Federal Market overview.

For more information about VFA’s work with the Pentagon, please see the article appearing in the September/October 2010 issue of Military Engineer (page 69).

Image of Pentagon, Birds-Eye

Pentagon from the Sky

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