NREL’s Research Support Facility: Designed To Influence an Industry (Text Version)

Built in 2010, the Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a groundbreaking example of energy efficiency and design.

In this short video, we share just what makes this building unique and how it continues to influence sustainable design and efficiency, even through today. A text version of this video is below.

From a distance, the silhouette of this building is distinctive, unlike your typical office building.

It's clear that this office building is unique.

Nestled in the hills of Golden, Colorado, the Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory serves as a groundbreaking example of energy efficiency and design.

At approximately 360,000 square feet, the RSF is one of the largest zero-energy LEED Platinum-certified commercial buildings in the entire world.

And in 2020, the RSF's zero energy operations and performance was validated through Zero-Energy LEED certification.

The building's north/south orientation and narrow profile supports daylighting while minimizing unwanted heat losses and gains.

Triple-glazed, operable windows deliver fresh air to cool the building passively opposed to mechanical methods.

Materials used in the RSF contain recycled elements, rapidly renewable products, and regional products, meaning they were sourced and procured within a 500-mile radius of campus.

For example, the building's concrete contains material repurposed from runways at a former Denver airport.

Highly efficient laptop computers, monitors, and all-in-one printers contribute to lower energy use.

An entire workstation in the RSF uses about 70 W while in use, compared to 300–500 W per workstation at a typical office building.

A 2.5-MW photovoltaic system on the roof of the RSF and on nearby parking lots generates the energy needed to offset the building's energy use on a yearly basis.

NREL's campus is also well integrated into the surrounding natural landscape.

Utilizing native drought-tolerant vegetation and a detention pond to manage stormwater, the site is attractive to both its occupants and wildlife.

Researchers working in the RSF use real-time building performance data to study the building's energy use and energy-saving practices to help guide product development in the commercial building sector.

With 19% of the primary energy in the U.S. consumed by commercial buildings, the RSF remains a leader in sustainable building design and performance.