The Gulf Coast Energy Network (GCEN) is championing the design, engineering, and construction of the Advanced Energy Technology Center (AETC) to support the military mission, locally, and throughout the Department of Defense (DoD). We are proposing a new 97.000 square foot (SF) facility at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), located in northwestern Florida. Eglin is home of the Eglin Test and Training Complex (ETTC) and is one of ten Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) host bases. Eglin AFB’s primary functions are to support research, development, testing, and evaluation of conventional weapons and electronic systems and to support multi‐service air and ground training of operational units. We feel that as the Air Force leader in test and evaluation, Eglin AFB is well suited to host the Advanced Energy Technology Center.

AETC Presentation Video

Purpose and Need

GCEN proposes to utilize approximately 6 acres of land at or adjacent to University of Florida’s Research Engineering and Education Facility (REEF) at Eglin AFB. Currently, the University has a land lease with the U.S. Air Force for approximately 20 acres, with an adjoining parcel of 98 acres. Eglin AFB is currently making this parcel would be developed by a private developer under a future Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) program.

The AETC is envisioned as a partnership facility between Federal and State governments, including the military at Eglin AFB, the private sector, and academia. The AETC would be developed as a facility attractive to hi-tech companies paying premium wages to skilled professionals. With military and private sector co-use of facilities and access to University of Florida resources, the AETC would create a synergistic environment benefiting current and future missions, research, development, and the communities at Eglin AFB.

This report evaluates implementation of the Proposed Action at site locations at and adjacent to the UF-REEF, however, resource categories have been limited to the analysis include biological and cultural resources, air quality, water resources, geological resources.

Location of the Proposed Action

The Gulf Coast Energy Network (GCEN) is proposing to partner with the UF-REEF and other entities to develop programs at the AETC. The REEF is designed as an engineering education facility in cooperation with the University of Florida and Eglin AFB. The facility is focused on research that is compatible with and beneficial to the missions of Eglin AFB, offering graduate degrees in aerospace, mechanical, industrial, systems, electrical, and computer engineering. The UF-REEF provides a state-of-the-art facility to conduct technical research critical to the advancement of national defense and security capabilities. The UF-REEF provides cooperative educational benefits to the Eglin AFB community, including access to the resources of the University of Florida, Gainesville. Many Eglin AFB active military and civilian employees are enrolled in graduate studies at the UF-REEF.

Since the establishment of the UF-REEF on Eglin AFB, Congress amended the Military Leasing Act, which is the authority for leasing military lands. The amended law establishes the EUL program. An EUL is a lease of land, natural infrastructure, or equipment for consideration equal to the asset’s fair market value. Authority for the EUL program includes Executive Order (EO) 13327, Federal Real Property Management, and Title 10 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 2667. EULs take advantage of underutilized assets to support unfunded Air Force requirements by generating value (e.g., cash or services) to address Air Force installations’ support-related requirements. EULs provide Air Force bases with increased ability to respond to mission shifts and realignments, such as with Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions.

With the growing research and development missions at Eglin AFB, combined with the Secretary of the Air Force’s initiative to seek EUL opportunities, Eglin AFB has determined that further development of the UF-REEF facility into a comprehensive research campus (in partnership with the University of Florida) is in the interest of the base and surrounding community. Therefore, GCEN may propose to establish the AETC at the UF-REEF on Eglin AFB property under the EUL program.

The existing UF-REEF and its research and educational foundation would serve as a strong educational partner for a comprehensive engineering research and development campus on the adjoining 98-acre parcel. Under the EUL scenario, all costs to develop the AETC including streets, utilities, sidewalks, fences, and other infrastructure would be paid for by GCEN and it’s private development partner(s). Benefits of the EUL would flow back to Eglin AFB in the form of rent or payments in-kind for use of the land in accordance with EUL guidelines.

The Proposed Action would be implemented adjacent to the 98-acre parcel and collocated with the UF-REEF referenced as Site Alternative 1 (Figure 1-2). This parcel is bounded on the north by State Route 189 (Lewis Turner Boulevard) and on the east by Poquito Road in Okaloosa County. The site is on Eglin AFB, approximately 1.5 miles northwest of the Eglin AFB west gate. The proposed site is directly adjacent to and surrounding the current UF-REEF, an engineering educational and research facility created by a partnership between the University of Florida and Eglin AFB that serves the local technical community.

Selection Evaluation Criteria

The following goals are used as selection criteria in keeping with the objectives of the AETC project.

  • The AETC addresses goals for enhanced research and educational needs at Eglin AFB.
  • The AETC utilizes military land that is underutilized to bring benefits to Eglin AFB and the surrounding community.
  • The project is conveniently locate facilities near Eglin AFB main base for easy access for employees, military personnel, and contractors.
  • The AETC Provide a high-tech campus to attract business and employment opportunities.
  • The AETC builds upon the existing University of Florida partnerships and provide opportunities with the University of West Florida and Northwest Florida State College.
  • The AETC provides the highest economic benefit to Eglin AFB, with cost savings and efficiency.
  • The AETC accommodates expansion through phased facility construction over several years.
  • The AETC utilizes the facilities and opportunities for the UF-REEF as a basis of expansion.

Scope of the Proposed Action 

Under the Proposed Action, the Gulf Coast Energy Network is spearheading the design and construction of a new 97,000 square foot Advanced Energy Technology Center. In partnership with a host of public and private entities, as well as academic partners across the state, the new $25 million facility is designed an anchor for a new high-tech innovation hub at Eglin Air Force Base. The AETC is centrally located to the installation’s research laboratories, test and evaluation centers, the University of Florida’s Research and Engineering Education Facility (REEF), and more than 300 defense contracting companies.

Programs that will be housed in the AETC include:

  • Energy Efficiency, Engineering, and Technology
  • Advanced Fuels Initiative
  • Sustainable Building Design & Construction
  • Fabrication Laboratory and 3D Printing
  • Emerging Technologies Laboratory
  • Information Technology/CyberSecurity

 

One of the primary objectives of the AETC is to link the world’s largest user of energy, the U.S. Air Force, with private-sector companies, research universities, and other non-governmental organizations focused on energy technology and innovations. Our goal is to introduce educational opportunities to establish educational pathways for local students.

The AETC is being designed as a “Living Laboratory” so that the design and construction attributes of the project will be used as a teaching tool to showcase high-performance sustainable design and construction practices. The AETC will adhere to the stringent standards of the U.S Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (or LEED), a green building rating system that has been embraced worldwide.

We hope that the AETC will entice our development team to execute an EUL on the adjoining 98 acres of Eglin AFB property for the purpose of establishing the Applied Technology Laboratory for Advanced Systems (ATLAS). Under this initiative, our development partner (hereinafter “lessee”) would construct and operate ATLAS, as envisioned by the US Air Force and Eglin AFB under a previous EUL effort (see Figures 1-3, 1-4, for a conceptual rendering of the ATLAS). The EUL would permit the lessee to sublease, allowing for maximum efficiency and flexibility in constructing, operating, and maintaining the site.

As payment for use of the land, the lessee would be required to pay Eglin AFB in the form of rent or payments in-kind in accordance with the Federal law that establishes the EUL program. These rent payments would be structured such that they might be utilized for the benefit of Eglin AFB. Under the Proposed Action, the lessee would be obligated to provide the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a comprehensive research campus to be known as the ATLAS. The proposed ATLAS campus would be developed in four to six phases over a 5-year timeframe.

The following general specifications for various building types would need to be met by the lessee:

  • Office research buildings – 1,400,000 ft2
  • Educational buildings – 400,000 ft2
  • Hotel/conference center – 110,000 ft2
  • Residential condos – 500,000 ft2
  • Parking facilities – 1,200,000 ft2
  • Cafeteria/food court – 17,000 ft2
  • Restaurant – 10,000 ft2