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Sustainable and Net Zero Buildings on the NREL Campus

Many of the high-performance buildings on NREL's South Table Mountain campus have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and/or net zero energy status. By incorporating state-of-the-art energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, these buildings are models for sustainability. In addition, the campus features native and xeriscape vegetation.

The 182,500-square-foot LEED Platinum Energy Systems Integration Facility features 14 laboratories, an Insight Visualization Center, a High-Bay Control Room, and the most energy efficient super computer in the world. Learn more.

Energy Use

  • Office space designed to have an energy use intensity of 25 kBtu per square-foot, per year
  • Non-data center space was designed to perform 30% better than ASHRAE 90.1 2007 standards
  • Natural ventilation through operable windows
  • About 80% of regularly occupied spaces have daylighting
  • Open office design and a narrow floor plate of 60 feet
  • LED lights with a lighting control system
  • Radiant heating and cooling

Sustainability

  • About 27% of building materials contain recycled content

Water Conservation

  • Dual flush water closets
  • Low-flow fixtures, including toilets, urinals, showers, and faucets
  • Thermosyphon cooler significantly reduces the need for data center cooling tower water use

The 362,055-square-foot Research Support Facility (RSF) is an award-winning model for LEED Platinum, net zero, and high-performance building design that incorporates the best energy efficiency and environmental performance technologies and practices in a large-scale commercial office building. Learn more about RSF community awards for sustainability.

Energy Use

  • Designed to have an energy use intensity of 35 kBtu per square-foot, per year
  • Designed to perform 50% better than ASHRAE 90.1 2007 standards, or a commercial office building to current commercial code
  • 2.5 megawatt rooftop photovoltaic system including systems on the two campus parking garages generates as much energy as the building consumes
  • Energy efficient data center uses evaporative cooling, outside air ventilation, waste heat capture, and more efficient servers to reduce the data centers energy use by 50% over traditional approaches
  • Daylighting from south-facing windows is reflected to the ceiling and deep into the space with light-reflecting devices
  • Transpired solar collectors passively preheat outside air on the buildings south face before delivery to the labyrinth and occupied space for heating
  • ENERGY STAR-certified energy efficient appliances and computing equipment

Water Conservation

  • Dual flush water closets
  • Low-flow toilets, urinals, showers, and faucets
  • Roof drainage irrigates rain gardens

Designed to be a net zero energy building, the 1,660-square-foot, LEED Platinum South Site Entrance Building facilitates security services to those using that entrance as an entry/exit point.

Energy Use

  • Daylighting
  • Natural ventilation, including a 35-foot tall wind-catch tower and under-floor air distribution system
  • 16.1 kW roof-mounted PV
  • Geothermal water-to-water heat pump
  • Radiant heating and cooling
  • LED lights with a lighting control system

Sustainability

  • More than 35% percent of building materials contain recycled content
  • 2.5% of building materials are rapidly renewable
  • Low-emitting building materials

The 71,347-square-foot Science and Technology Facility (S&TF) was the first federal LEED Platinum building. Learn more.

Energy Use

The building was designed to provide a 41% reduction in energy cost compared to a standard laboratory building.

  • Roof uses ENERGY STAR-certified materials
  • Building design exceeds ASHRAE 90.1 1999 requirements for energy efficiency
  • Windows on the north and south facades provide natural lighting
  • Energy is recovered from exhaust air to temperature-condition fresh air
  • Displacement ventilation is used for the offices
  • High-efficiency chiller saves energy for both the S&TF and the adjoining Solar Energy Research Facility

Sustainability

  • About 27% of the total building materials were manufactured within a 500-mile radius
  • No chlorofluorocarbon based refrigerants used in the heating, refrigerating, and air-conditioning
  • About 80% (by weight) of the construction, demolition, and land-clearing waste was recycled or salvaged
  • At least 25% of the total building materials were composed of 20% post-consumer waste recycled content

Water Conservation

  • Storm water collects on the butterfly roof over the office and then flows over the spout at the east end of the building into a series of ponds used to irrigate the landscape
  • Low-flow fixtures, such as ultra-low-flow (0.5 gallon per flush) urinals

The 27,000-square-foot LEED Gold Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility features a high-bay biochemical conversion pilot plant that handles up to one ton of dry biomass per day, multiple stand-alone fermentation systems, and compositional analysis laboratories. Learn more.

Energy Use

  • Natural ventilation through operable windows
  • Daylighting
  • Open office design
  • LED lights with a lighting control system

The 12,140-square-foot LEED Platinum Cafeteria holds 250 occupants and uses about 25% less energy than a cafeteria built to current commercial code. Read more.

Energy Use

  • Designed to have an energy use intensity of 150 kBtu per square-foot, per year
  • Daylighting and tubular skylights achieve uniform light distribution across the main dining area space to limit the use of electric lighting
  • ENERGY STAR-certified appliances and other high-efficiency equipment reduces the building's need for power
  • A kitchen ventilation system with demand-controlled exhaust hoods
  • Cutting-edge duct grease sensors monitor build-up and alert the operator when cleaning is necessary
  • LED lights with occupancy sensors in the walk-in refrigerator, freezers, and hoods that turn on and off automatically

Water Conservation

  • Dual-rinse, water conserving dishwashers
  • Methods for recycling stormwater
  • Low-flow, pre-rinse water valves

NRELs parking garage is designed to LEED Platinum standards and is expected to perform 90% better than a standard garage built to code. The 578,320-square-foot structure has 1,800 parking spaces and 108 electric vehicle charging stations. Read more.

Energy Use

  • Daylighting and translucent skylights
  • Natural ventilation
  • 1.2 MW of facade- and roof-mounted photovoltaics used within the energy boundary of the Research Support Facility
  • LED lights with a lighting control system

Sustainability

  • Bird-friendly glass
  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Incentive parking for high-occupant vehicles and low-emitting vehicles
  • About 35% of building materials contain recycled content
  • Low-emitting building materials
  • Recycling drop-off center for paper, plastic, glass, batteries, and electronics

Water Conservation

  • Drainage swale to encourage ground infiltration of stormwater and snowmelt

NRELs first showcase building constructed in 1994, the 6,459-square-foot Education Center proudly displays technologies that can save energy, create jobs, and generate clean electricity and fuels from plentiful domestic, carbon-free sources. Learn more.

Energy Use

  • Trombe wall that lights and heats the exhibit hall
  • Direct evaporative cooling system
  • LED lights with a lighting control system
  • Energy management system monitors temperature, humidity, and occupancy