NREL
 

Mountain Retail Stores Become Showcase for Solar Energy
Local Officials, Business Leaders to Gather for Groundbreaking Ceremony

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Golden, Colo., June 7, 1999 — A retail development owner who wants to set an example is helping make possible a new showcase for energy efficient buildings in the Colorado high country.

Ground will be broken June 9 on the BigHorn Home Improvement Center in Silverthorne, which will boast a series of "firsts" for Colorado: the first retail space to be completely daylit and the first retail space to use net metering with Public Service Company.

The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. in front of the BigHorn Center at 1241 Blue River Parkway. Silverthorne town officials and local business leaders are scheduled to attend.

The three-phase project used a "whole building" design concept to incorporate active and passive solar energy systems and energy efficiency strategies. The whole building concept refers to engineering a building's envelope and its energy systems—such as heating, air conditioning and lighting—to minimize energy consumption.

The retail development uses cutting edge technologies developed by the Center for Buildings and Thermal Systems at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Phases 1 and 2, completed last year, included Sears and an adjacent flooring and carpet store. Phase 3, which incorporates the most NREL design concepts, will include a building materials warehouse and a chain hardware store.

Phase 3 includes a photovoltaic (PV)-integrated standing-seam metal roof, a transpired solar collector (solar wall), daylighting, energy efficient windows and lighting, radiant heating and extra insulation throughout the development. Together they are expected to cut the center's annual energy bill by about 25% compared to a building designed to meet federal energy codes.

Net metering means that extra electricity produced by solar panels on the roof and not used by the building will be fed back to the utility, with credit given to the customer at the same rate as power purchased from the utility. Daylighting uses natural light as a primary source of light during daytime hours. The Bighorn Center's final design includes clerestory windows for daylighting and a south-facing transpired solar collector, or solar wall, for space heating.

Another first for the Bighorn Center is the use in a retail store of dimmable ballasts in High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting. Consistent lighting levels will be maintained as the lights automatically dim or grow brighter based on sensor readings inside the building. Ordinary ballasts keep lighting at a constant brightness - the lights are either fully on or off.

Dimmable ballasts coupled with daylighting are expected to reduce the building's electrical lighting consumption by 45%, thereby reducing overall energy use and saving money.

While innovative electric lighting and daylighting may seem like obvious components in a passive solar building, NREL senior research engineer Sheila Hayter explained that their use in a retail store is considered a bold move by the owner, who needs to guarantee his merchandise is consistently well lit for customers.

"If things aren't well lit people won't shop in their store," she said. The BigHorn Center's materials warehouse and hardware store also will sell energy efficient building products including some used in the Center's construction. NREL will continue research efforts on the building through monitoring and evaluation of the technologies.

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