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.
Few third-party guidance documents or tools are available for evaluating thermal energy storage (TES) integrated with packaged air conditioning (AC), as this type of TES is relatively new compared to TES integrated with chillers or hot water systems. To address this gap, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a project to improve the ability of potential technology adopters to evaluate TES technologies. Major project outcomes included: development of an evaluation framework to describe key metrics, methodologies, and issues to consider when assessing the performance of TES systems integrated with packaged AC; application of multiple concepts from the evaluation framework to analyze performance data from four demonstration sites; and production of a new simulation capability that enables modeling of TES integrated with packaged AC in EnergyPlus. This report includes the evaluation framework and analysis results from the project.
"Building Commissioning is the professional practice that ensures buildings are delivered according to the Owner's Project Requirements (OPR). Buildings that are properly commissioned typically have fewer change orders, tend to be more energy efficient, and have lower operation and maintenance cost."
It is still early in the collection and analysis of energy performance data, but it is already clear that high-performance commercial buildings—some "almost net-zero buildings"—can be constructed cost effectively, providing productive environments for occupants, reducing operating costs, and enhancing the competitiveness of commercial properties.