Earlier this year, when ENR Editor-at-Large Nadine M. Post was briefing the videographers on Award of Excellence winner Jeffrey M. Baker and his project, she described his accomplishment and its significance. But when asked, she couldn’t describe the man. That was because she had not yet met Baker.

Award of Excellence Will Help Winner Spread News About Affordable, Ultra-Green Buildings
Photo: Don Cudney
Bonded over a mutual disdain for waste.

“He didn’t disappoint,” says Post. During her time with Baker—reporting the cover story that starts onp. 46—she learned they share many values. For example, both Baker and Post have little tolerance for waste and both go around turning lights off to save energy and money. She also admires his devotion to his family as well as his independent spirit and perseverance.

Baker, director of laboratory operations for the Dept. of Energy’s Golden, Colo., field office, sees the Award of Excellence and the cover story as not only an honor but as a way to launch the affordable, ultra-energy-efficient building model into “orbital velocity.” However, when Baker’s design-build team made its presentation to win the job of building the net-zero-energy Research Support Facility, the team pledged a project so exceptional that the project made the covers of Architectural Record, Newsweek and ENR—so, one down, two to go!

Although Post had never met Baker before, she learned on a tour of his first project—the Solar Energy Research Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory—that their paths had almost crossed many years ago. In a story in 1992, Post wrote, “Those who work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory aren’t waiting for the second coming of the energy crisis to practice the conservation they preach. When operational, the agency’s new 116,000-sq-ft laboratory in Golden, Colo., is expected to beat national public-building energy-use guidelines by 30%.” Who would have thought then that net-zero energy was possible?

Baker has been called a visionary, a patriotic steward, a team leader, a navigator, a relationship builder and a collaborator. But those aren’t just the kind words of his colleagues and friends. Those names describing Baker were used by the Partnership for Public Service, which granted him a 2010 Service to America Medal for the new facility.