This publication details the design, implementation strategies, and continuous performance monitoring of NREL's Research Support Facility data center.
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McGraw Hill Construction Continuing Education Article December 2010 - This article discusses the energy efficiency and cost competitiveness of the Research Support Facility.
The Research Support Facility is designed to be one of the world's largest net-zero energy buildings. It incorporates new technologies and techniques and draws on centuries-old concepts. Its operable windows allow natural ventilation. It monitors indoor and outdoor temperatures and displays messages on each computer about opening or closing windows.
At the time this Wall Street Journal article was published, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was midway through construction of a $64 million project to be the greenest office building in the nation. This article explores efforts by architects and engineers who spent hundreds of hours calculating the energy use of every aspect of the building, from the elevator to the exit signs.
The U.S. Department of Energy hopes lessons learned from the Research Support Facility will help guide green-construction practices around the world. Outside experts in efficient construction point out that some of the technology used at NREL is best suited for high-sunlight, low-humidity climates such as Colorado and would not work nearly as well elsewhere. The building also demands a lot from its employees, who must adjust to fluctuating temperatures throughout the day and pop up from their desks to open and shut windows; a workforce less dedicated to energy efficiency might rebel.
This article describes many energy efficiency features of the Research Support Facility and the adjustments employees need to make.
OpenStudio development efforts have been focused on providing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) where users are able to extend OpenStudio without the need to compile the open source libraries. This paper will discuss the basic purposes and functionalities of the core libraries that have been wrapped with APIs including the Building Model, Results Processing, Advanced Analysis, Uncertainty Quantification, and Data Interoperability through Translators. Several building energy modeling applications have been produced using OpenStudio's API and Software Development Kits (SDK) including the United States Department of Energy's Asset ScoreCalculator, a mobile-based audit tool, an energy design assistance reporting protocol, and a portfolio scale incentive optimization analysis methodology. Each of these software applications will be discussed briefly and will describe how the APIs were leveraged for various uses including high-level modeling, data transformations from detailed building audits, error checking/quality assurance of models, and use of high-performance computing for mass simulations.
This article, published in High Performance Buildings Magazine, presents the process used for delivering NREL's Research Support Facility (RSF) as a replicable blueprint to achieve a large reduction in building energy use and to adopt a net zero energy approach for large-scale commercial buildings (ZEB) without increasing cost.
Cooling loads must be dramatically reduced when designing net-zero energy buildings or other highly efficient facilities. Advances in this area have focused primarily on reducing a building’s sensible cooling loads by improving the envelope, integrating properly sized daylighting systems, adding exterior solar shading devices, and reducing internal heat gains. As sensible loads decrease, however, latent loads remain relatively constant, and thus become a greater fraction of the overall cooling requirement in highly efficient building designs, particularly in humid climates. This shift toward latent cooling is a challenge for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Traditional systems typically dehumidify by first overcooling air below the dew-point temperature and then reheating it to an appropriate supply temperature, which requires an excessive amount of energy. Another dehumidification strategy incorporates solid desiccant rotors that remove water from air more efficiently; however, these systems are large and increase fan energy consumption due to the increased airside pressure drop of solid desiccant rotors. A third dehumidification strategy involves high flow liquid desiccant systems. These systems require a high maintenance separator to protect the air distribution system from corrosive desiccant droplet carryover and so are more commonly used in industrial applications and rarely in commercial buildings. Both solid desiccant systems and most high-flow liquid desiccant systems (if not internally cooled) add sensible energy which must later be removed to the air stream during dehumidification, through the release of sensible heat during the sorption process.
"Why choose continuous insulation and air barriers? The biggest problem with many insulated buildings involves thermal bridging. These occur when poor thermal insulator materials meet, creating the path of least resistance for heat to pass through."