NREL's Research Support Facility Garners Second LEED® Platinum
November 20, 2012
The Research Support Facility (RSF) on the campus of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. has earned its second LEED® Platinum designation
for new construction from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization
dedicated to sustainable building design and construction.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation was
recently awarded to the 138,000-square-foot, “RSF Expansion” project. The RSF expansion
added a third wing to the main office building, which was completed in 2010. In the
months between the finish of the initial RSF and the start of the expansion wing,
NREL’s Advanced Commercial Buildings Research
team worked with the design-build team and identified strategies to reduce energy
use in the RSF expansion by an additional 17 percent.
The design-build team incorporated additional energy solutions, including a more streamlined
thermal labyrinth under the building, an indirect evaporative cooling system, easier
to open windows and more efficient solar panels compared to the solar panels installed
on the initial RSF project. Additionally, the expansion project cost less per square
“It’s rare to take everything you've learned in one building and then immediately
repeat it and improve on it in another,” said Drew Detamore, NREL’s deputy director
of SITE Operations. “To see such impressive efficiency enhancements in such a short
time speaks volumes to the rapid progression of efficient commercial building practices,
for which NREL is proud to be a driving force.”
The RSF expansion cost $39 million and received funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The ARRA funding allowed the planned expansion to get underway shortly after the finishing
touches on the first phase of the RSF were complete. This meant that NREL finished
the building years earlier than expected, providing a showcase for the use of renewable
energy and energy efficiency technologies and a model for cost-effective, high performance
At a total of 360,000 square-feet, the entire RSF is a model for sustainable, net-zero,
high performance building design that incorporates the best energy efficiency and
environmental performance technologies and practices in a large-scale commercial office
building. NREL researchers are monitoring and documenting the energy performance of
the RSF and sharing those results with industry to show how achievable and cost competitive
ultra-energy efficient buildings are today.
The LEED rating system is the preeminent program for rating the design, construction
and operation of green buildings. According to USGBC’s Certified Project database,
only two projects in the world have scored higher than the RSF expansion project,
while another project tied with it. The RSF project had a perfect score in the energy
and atmosphere category.
Continuing to demonstrate NREL’s commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency,
the RSF expansion project is the third at NREL to achieve a LEED Platinum designation.
In June 2011, the initial RSF project was certified LEED® Platinum. In 2007, NREL’s
Science and Technology Facility
was the first federal facility in the nation to be certified LEED® Platinum.
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
The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.