Green Building in COOnly 28 other buildings in the world have achieved the green label of excellence that is called the LEED platinum award. A government U.S. Department of Energy building in Colorado has become the newest member in the elite class of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly places to work in the world. The Science & Technology Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden is a 71,000-sq. ft., $22.7-million, state-of-the-art multi-story building designed not only to fit into the gently sloping side of a mesa, but to conserve the precious water and resources of the land as well…

The S&T Facility in Golden, completed in June 2006, is the first federal building to receive a platinum rating, the highest in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED Green Building rating system.

The award 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.

“It is incumbent upon the federal government to lead by example and use energy as efficiently as possible,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Andy Karsner. “The President’s Executive Order requires the government to cut energy intensity by at least 30 percent in less than a decade, promoting energy efficiency as a national priority. 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.”

Care was taken to minimize disturbing the natural terrain and conserve 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, 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. The SmithGroup of Phoenix, Ariz., was the design architect. M.A. Mortenson Company of Denver, Colo., 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.

The Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder, Colo., also received a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

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