News Release: Science & Technology Facility Is First LEED Platinum Federal Building

April 4, 2007 | Contact media relations

A research facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been designated as one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly places to work in the United States by the U.S. Green Buildings Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building program. 

“I commend NREL for answering the President’s call to be more energy efficient and I encourage more facilities to follow this example.  In addition to being a world leader in renewable energy research and development, NREL has now raised the bar in terms of increasing energy efficiency on site as well,” Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said.  

The 71,000-sq. ft., $22.7-million, state-of-the-art Science & Technology Facility (S&TF) in Golden is the first federal laboratory building to receive a platinum rating, the highest in the LEED Green Building rating system.  Only 28 other buildings in the world have achieved the LEED platinum designation.  One of the 28 – the Rocky Mountain Institute – is in Boulder, Colorado.

LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It recognizes and measures building performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:  sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

“Our built environment uses 40% of the nation’s energy. As the country’s largest energy consumer, it is incumbent upon the federal government to lead by example and use energy as efficiently as possible,” Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said.  “The President’s historic Executive Order requires the government to cut energy intensity by at least 30% in less than a decade, promoting energy efficiency as a national priority. Consistent with our emphasis and investment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this building is a beacon of how we can combine innovative designs and new building technologies to minimize our carbon footprint and transform the built environment.”

 “This is a significant achievement for the Department of Energy, NREL and Midwest Research Institute,” said James Spigarelli, President and CEO of Midwest Research Institute which manages NREL for DOE.  “MRI is committed to helping NREL demonstrate the value of building smart, efficient and environmentally friendly buildings on its campus.”

MRI established a Blue Ribbon Construction Oversight Committee – comprised of MRI Board members with significant experience in design and construction of similarly-scaled facilities – to advise DOE and NREL staff on the project and facilitate its successful completion and achievement in energy and environmental design. 

 “NREL is leading by example – conserving precious resources and minimizing its environmental footprint,” said NREL Director Dan Arvizu. “As we move forward with the construction of facilities at NREL that have been made possible with additional funding from DOE and Congress in 2007, we will continue to demonstrate how clean energy technologies and practices can reduce energy consumption and environmental impacts.” 

The multi-story building was designed to fit into the gently sloping side of a mesa, where care was taken to minimize disturbing the natural terrain and conserve and manage water resources. Architectural features such as daylighting, evaporative cooling and efficient motors, fans, windows and lighting reduce the building’s energy requirements, saving 41 percent in energy costs. 

NREL staff worked with the architect and construction contractor to make certain that 11 percent of the building materials were from recycled materials and 27 percent of the construction materials were manufactured within 500 miles of the building site. This minimized impact on land and air quality by reducing the amount of waste to landfills and vehicle emissions from transporting materials. 

“Indoor environmental quality and employee health and safety were high priorities,” said Nancy Carlisle, AIA, NREL senior project leader. “The building’s office area is 100 percent day lighted. That glare-free natural lighting coupled with large window views of the outdoors not only saves energy, but decreases eye strain, improves ‘see-ability’ and has been shown to increase productivity.” 

About 55 researchers and support staff work in the S&TF.  The Science & Technology Facility houses some of NREL’s solar and hydrogen energy research and was designed to help accelerate the development and commercialization of promising new energy technologies.  It was completed in June 2006.  The SmithGroup of Phoenix, AZ, was the design architect.  M.A. Mortenson Company of Denver, CO, was the general contractor. 

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.