Brit Liggett

Department of Energy Finishes Largest Zero-Energy Building in US

by , 07/06/10

passive buildings, passive building techniques, zero energy buildings, zero energy construction, us department of energy, national renewable energy laborator, NREL zero energy building, colorado zero energy building

Walking the walk is key when playing the environmental game, which is why we’re thrilled to report that the United States Department of Energy has completed their new zero-energy research building in Colorado. It clocks in at 222,000 square feet and is the largest zero-energy building in the United States. Boasting 50% less energy usage than a conventional building of its size and a huge array of on-site solar panels, the new Research Support Facility is able to produce all the energy it needs to function without borrowing from the grid. The US government certainly seems to be leading by example with this passive beauty.

passive buildings, passive building techniques, zero energy buildings, zero energy construction, us department of energy, national renewable energy laborator, NREL zero energy building, colorado zero energy building

The Research Support Facility is located on the Golden, Colorado campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It will officially open in late August and it will be the working home of 800 federal employees. The building employs techniques new and old to reach its zero-energy status, many of which are hundreds of years old and help the building make the best of natural light from the sun as well as use the earth below it to help heat and cool the building.

Typical office buildings use as much as 30% of their energy expenditure on lighting – not so with the Research Support Facility. The entire east-to-west facing facade is made of as much glass as possible and brings light to all of the building’s interior spaces. It is also outfitted with a smart lighting system which sends employees an on screen message on their computer monitor telling them when to open their blinds. Much of the construction material in the building is recycled including reclaimed steel natural gas pipes that are being used as structural columns. The DOE is hoping that this new building achieves a LEED Platinum rating for all of its green bells and whistles, and it looks like they have a great shot.

+ National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Via The New York Times Green Blog

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5 Comments

  1. dbenton April 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I would like to tour the zero energy United States Department of Energy building in Golden, CO. Please advise me of the process for doing that. Thanks, Denise Bentn

  2. USPS Energy Retrofits S... August 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

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  3. danielablogs July 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    What\’s the point of sending an email saying when to open the blinds if the idea is to have maximum daylighting? Are censors monitoring other factors like heat gain and glare? But it is nice that employees have control over their own shading.

    The Neenan Company

  4. a good guy July 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Now they just need to ensure they have charging stations for all the electric vehicles they want their employees to be driving.

  5. Bill Burke July 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Britt,

    Your statement that,
    \”…the new Research Support Facility is able to produce all the energy it needs to function without borrowing from the grid.\” is incorrect. The building most certainly WILL do exactly that. One definition of a net zero energy building, and the one used here, is that the building produces a surplus of energy onsite during sunny periods to offset the energy it borrows from the energy grid at night or when sunlight is not adequate to provide 100% of demand. It\’s really important that people understand this. Net zero energy buildings are almost always grid-connected and don\’t necessarily have any batteries to store energy. When the renewable energy system produces a surplus that surplus is fed back into the grid for use by other grid-connected buildings. When the renewable energy system is unable to meet current demand from the building, the facility draws power from the grid. Over the course of one year, the goal is to have the surplus sent into the grid be as large or larger than the energy drawn from the grid.

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