NOAA 2004-R227
Contact: Greg Romano
NOAA News Releases 2004
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A facility built to save lives has earned the distinction as the first-ever Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDTM) certified building in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC) facility in Palmer, Alaska, has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The new WC/ATWC began operations in June 2003. It was built to the exacting standards of the Green Building Council, whose LEEDTM certification program sets the standard for environmentally sensitive design.

LEEDTM certified buildings achieve the designation by meeting strict energy and environmental design criteria and scoring points in five areas: sustainable site planning, water efficiency and safeguards, energy efficiency and renewable energy use, conservation of materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

“The LEEDTM process sets in place very challenging design goals that are especially difficult to achieve in Alaska,” said Ron Warren, NWS project manager for the new facility.

The WC/ATWC is leading federal and state agencies nationally in “green” building design and certification. Since it is NOAA’s first LEEDTM certified facility, and the first in the state of Alaska, it will be utilized as an instructional tool for building design for many years to come, said Laura Furgione, NWS Alaska Region acting director.

“Building ‘green’ provides substantial savings through lower energy, waste and water costs and lower operational and maintenance costs. Moreover, ‘green’ buildings tend to create a healthier work environment,” Furgione added.

The engineering firm of Burns and McDonnell provided design and construction management of the center in close collaboration with engineers from NOAA/NWS.

The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center was established in 1967 as a result of the great Alaskan earthquake that occurred on March 27, 1964. This earthquake alerted state and federal officials to the need for a facility to provide timely and effective tsunami warnings and information for the coastal areas of Alaska. In 1996, the center’s area of responsibility was expanded to include all Pacific-wide tsunamigenic sources which could affect the California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska coasts.

NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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Note To Editors: On April 1, 2004 at 1:00 p.m., National Weather Service Acting Regional Director Laura Furgione will be presenting the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEEDTM certification plaque to Paul Whitmore, scientist in charge of the WC/ATWC. Reporters are welcome to stop by for photographs. To schedule an interview, please contact Paul Whitmore at (907) 745-4212.