FIGURE G.1 Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus in Golden Colorado. SOURCE: Courtesy of Pat Corkery.

funded research and development center and, as such, NREL supports DOE on a host of energy policy, technology, and market matters.

While NREL’s beginnings were humble—its first buildings were mobile homes that were declared excess by the Bureau of Prisons—DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has since invested hundreds of millions of dollars developing its research infrastructure at NREL. EERE used this opportunity to develop NREL as an innovator in the field of energy-efficient commercial building design and construction. Starting in the 1990s DOE-sponsored capital construction has pushed the boundaries of energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The Solar Energy Research Facility, a 114,000 gross square feet (GSF) laboratory building completed in 1994, won numerous awards for its innovative and highly successful use of daylighting in office and laboratory space. The Science and Technology Facility, a 71,000 GSF laboratory building housing a highly complex research and development infrastructure for photovoltaic and related technologies, was the nation’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building. This focus on energy-efficient design of buildings at NREL, as well as NREL’s site infrastructure, enabled the addition of almost 8 megawatts of renewable power generated from on-site wind and photovoltaic sources to provide power to the complex. Today approximately 32 percent of all of NREL’s electricity needs are provided by on-site renewable production.


The Research Support Facility is a commercial office building and EERE’s new corporate headquarters for NREL. The RSF was designed to be the most energy-efficient office building in the world and, as such, it redefines what is possible today in energy-efficient commercial building design. The RSF was designed to exceed the best energy performance standard available, the ASHRAE 90.1–2004 standard, by 50 percent at a cost that is comparable to similarly sized but less energy-efficient projects. In a testament to its energy efficiency, the RSF increases the square footage under roof at NREL by 60 percent but only increases site energy use by 6 percent. The RSF was completed in June 2010 and will house 825 employees in 222,000 square feet.

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