At a Glance
- Golden, Colorado
- September 2013
- Total Size
- 182,000 sf
- Thermomass Products
- System SC
In this cutting-edge US Department of Energy lab, the clean energy technologies of tomorrow are being developed and tested in an award winning building designed using today’s best practices for sustainable, energy efficient construction.
Located on a scenic 300-acre campus along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a collection of R&D facilities dedicated to the research, development, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
The newest of these NREL laboratories, the 182,000-square-foot Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF), was formally dedicated in September 2013 with the mission of providing researchers with space and tools to explore best practices for integrating cutting-edge clean energy technologies like wind, solar, and biofuels into current energy grid infrastructures.
To deliver on this mandate, the ESIF is actually made up of three distinct buildings: an office wing for the researchers and staff, the actual laboratory space for research and experiments, and a high-performance data center that houses Peregrine, a supercomputer – one of the fastest in the world – used for advanced data analysis and visualization.
The walls of the high bay laboratory wing are perhaps the most critical of all of the building envelopes of the facility. Not only are these spaces built to house complex mechanical and robotic equipment, but they are also designed specifically for higher-hazard activities, including the use of flammable gases (including hydrogen) and the testing of new, unproven, or potentially hazardous equipment and processes.
To meet both the safety specifications and the energy efficiency demands for the laboratory environments, Stresscon, a nationally renowned precaster headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs, was tasked with the manufacture of insulated concrete panels capable of delivering an R-20 while also providing durable interior and exterior surfaces.
Stresscon’s final design was for a 14-inch thick panel comprised of 8-inch interior and 3-inch exterior concrete wythes sandwiching 3 inches of System NC rigid insulation from Thermomass. With edge-to-edge Thermomass insulation, the wall panels achieved an R-value of 20.55, helping the ESIF project meets its goal of a 40 percent greater performance efficiency than the baseline ASHRAE 90.1 building standard – work that garnered Stresscon an Award of Excellence for Precast Concrete from the American Concrete Institute.
Award Winning Performance
The rest of the facility was also designed to replicate the proven energy-savings practices of another Thermomass-insulated building on campus, the NREL Research Support Facility. All three wings feature sustainability measures such as natural ventilation, enhanced daylighting, open-air cubicles, automated environmental controls, and radiant heating.
As a result of the successful integrations of all safety, performance, design, and sustainability initiatives, the NREL ESIF has been recognized with numerous awards including a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for the project, one of only a few such designations for buildings housing high performance data centers.