NREL Pursues a New Green Building, Increased Renewable Energy Use

October 30, 2007

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman helped to break ground on October 30th for a new green building at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is also ramping up its on-site production of renewable energy. The new 210,000-square-foot Research Support Facility is designed to be the second building at NREL to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" and is a widely accepted benchmark for green buildings. The building will provide on-site, DOE-owned work space for NREL management and administrative staff and will make substantial use of daylighting, dramatically reducing energy use and providing a pleasant and productive working environment.

To boost its on-site production of renewable energy, NREL is also installing a biomass-fueled heating plant and a 750-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power project. The Renewable Fuel Heating plant will work in tandem with conventional natural gas boilers to supply heating to the NREL campus. The building will use biomass such as wood chips and forest thinnings to displace up to 75% of NREL's overall natural gas consumption. The project was paid for by Ameresco Energy Services, which will be repaid through NREL's energy savings. The Mesa Top PV Project, which is expected to be completed in May 2008, will consist of 5 acres of solar panels and will provide up to 7% of NREL's electrical needs. It was funded through a series of agreements involving SunEdison, Xcel Energy, and DOE's Western Area Power Administration and Golden Field Office. Located in Golden, Colorado, NREL is the primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research in the United States. See the DOE press release and the NREL Web site.