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) 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.

South Table Mountain Campus

The 182,500-ft2 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.

Energy Use

  • Office space designed to have an energy use intensity of 25 kBtu per square foot, per year
  • Non-data center space 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 ft
  • 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-ft2 Research Support Facility 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.

Designed to be a net-zero building, the 1,660-ft2, LEED Platinum South Site Entrance Building provides security services as an entry/exit point.

Energy Use

  • Daylighting
  • Natural ventilation, including a 35-ft 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% of building materials contain recycled content
  • 2.5% of building materials are rapidly renewable
  • Low-emitting building materials

The 71,347-ft2 Science and Technology Facility was the first federal LEED Platinum building.

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 Science and Technology Facility 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 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 and flows 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-ft2 LEED Gold Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility features a high-bay biochemical conversion pilot plant that handles up to 1 ton of dry biomass per day, multiple stand-alone fermentation systems, and compositional analysis laboratories.

Energy Use

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

The 12,140-ft2 LEED Platinum cafeteria holds 250 occupants and uses about 25% less energy than a cafeteria built to current commercial code.

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 reduce the 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

NREL's 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-ft2 structure has 1,800 parking spaces and 108 electric vehicle charging stations.

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

NREL's first showcase building, constructed in 1994, the 6,459-ft2 Education Center proudly displays technologies that can save energy, create jobs, and generate clean electricity and fuels from plentiful domestic, carbon-free sources.

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

Flatirons Campus

NREL's Flatirons Campus, which houses the National Wind Technology Center, is a zero-energy campus. When there is not enough onsite generation to satisfy the load, the campus imports the balance from the grid. When there is more onsite generation than onsite load, the campus exports to the grid.

Flatirons Zero-Energy Campus: FY 2020

One Week of Flatirons Campus Energy Data

This infographic shows how the Flatirons campus operates as a zero-energy campus throughout the year. The top graph highlights May 1,2020 through May 8, 2020, shows the total energy consumption of the Flatirons Campus for each day. Additionally, on each day the graph shows how much energy was consumed from the grid, from solar photovoltaics, from wind, and how much renewable energy was exported to the Xcel grid. For example, on May 4th, the campus pulled from the electrical grid until late morning, then all consumption came from solar photovoltaics and wind production through the late afternoon when grid electricity was used through the evening. There was also a large portion of electricity exported throughout May 4th. The graphic on the bottom right explains the difference between an importing and exporting campus. Where either the campus is importing energy from the grid, as well as using any onsite production or the campus is exporting energy, as well as using any onsite production. The graph on the bottom left shows the total site and source energy by type for the FY2020. For site energy, the Flatirons campus imported 5,975 MBTU from grid electricity and 3,991 MBTU from natural gas. Also in site energy, the Flatirons campus exported 3,991 MBTU from solar photovoltaics and 4,437 MBTU from wind production. In source energy the Flatirons campus imported 16,730 MBTU from grid electricity and 4,191 MBTU from natural gas. The campus exported 11,174 MBTU in solar photovoltaics and 12,425 MBTU in wind production in source energy.

TBD