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.
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.