Power to the People: NREL technologies applied in its own zero-energy office building
When it comes to defining zero-energy, the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden is writing the book.
Scientists at the South Table Mesa campus have developed technologies such as transpired solar collectors and are investigating the benefits of night purging—cutting-edge ideas that are fueling the sustainable-energy movement and stretching the skills of the design and construction industry.
Next June, when construction on NREL’s Research Support Facilities is complete, the campus will have a living example of its research, with many of its own technologies put into practice. It will also have created a model for future sustainable office buildings.
NREL’s new three-story building will include two long wings, connected at the middle by a lobby and conference area, in a 220,000-sq-ft complex employing more than 700 employees.
“We need this building primarily to get our employees out of leased spaces and to accommodate our growing staff, but the DOE also believes that if we are going to be doing renewable-energy research, then we need to be ‘walking the talk,’” says NREL’s Eric Telesmanich, RSF project manager.
Design-Build on Steroids To select the project team, NREL developed a performance-based, design-build procurement process. It required prospective teams to develop a concept design and substantiate how they would achieve the 23 sustainable project requirements while staying within the $64-million budget, says Greg Bollette, DOE project officer.
Requirements include LEED-Platinum certification leading to net-zero-energy operation; demonstration of active alternative-energy technologies; and creation of a model for competitive, high-performance commercial buildings.
NREL selected the design-build team of Haselden Construction of Centennial, Denver’s RNL and Stantec Consulting Inc., also of Denver, for the project.
“We have created a seamless team,” says Byron Haselden, president of Haselden Construction. “You couldn’t tell today who is the architect or who is the general contractor. It is a prime example of great minds thinking alike.”
Haselden dubbed the design-build partnership “collaborative project delivery,” but Phillip Macey, RNL senior associate and RSF project manager, calls it “design-build on steroids.”
Before starting design, RNL asked Stantec to build a model based on the 23 sustainable requirements and the budget. The engineers produced a long building with a short breadth that accommodates daylighting requirements, Macey says.
Telesmanich adds: “The project team took a nonstandard, nontraditional approach to achieve the sustainable requirements. The design from the engineering team led to the architectural design, instead of the other way around.”
When the project is complete, Haselden, RNL and...