This case study highlights the design, implementation strategies, and continuous performance monitoring of NREL's Research Support Facility data center.
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This paper illustrates the challenges of integrating rigorous daylight and electric lighting simulation data with whole-building energy models, and defends the need for such integration in order to achieve aggressive energy savings in building designs. Through a case study example, we examine the ways daylighting – and daylighting simulation – drove the design of a large net-zero energy project.
This paper reviews the novel procurement, acquisition, and contract process of a large-scale replicable net zero energy (ZEB) office building. The owners (who are also commercial building energy efficiency researchers) developed and implemented an energy performance based design-build process to procure an office building with contractual requirements to meet demand side energy and LEED goals. The key procurement steps needed to ensure achievement of the energy efficiency and ZEB goals using a replicable delivery process are outlined.
This paper documents the methodology developed to identify and reduce plug and process loads (PPLs) as part of NREL's Research Support Facility's (RSF) low energy design process. PPLs, including elevators, kitchen equipment in breakrooms, and office equipment in NREL’s previously occupied office spaces were examined to determine a baseline. This, along with research into the most energy-efficient products and practices, enabled the formulation of a reduction strategy that should yield a 47% reduction in PPLs. The building owner and the design team played equally important roles in developing and implementing opportunities to reduce PPLs. Based on the work done in the RSF, a generalized multistep process has been developed for application to other buildings.
The Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a 220,000-ft office building designed to serve 822 occupants, to use 35.1 kBtu/(ft2·yr), to use half the energy of an equivalent minimally code-compliant building, and eventually to produce as much renewable energy annually as it consumes. These goals and their substantiation through simulation were explicitly included in the fixed price design-build contract. The energy model had to be repeatedly updated to match design documents and the final building, as it was built, to the greatest degree practical. Computer modeling played a key role in diagnosing the energy impacts of program and decisions and in verifying that the contractual energy goals would be met within the specified budget. The primary tool used was a whole-building energy simulation program. Other simulation tools were used to provide more detail or to complement the primary tool as required by the delivery schedule, including tools to calculate thermal bridging, daylighting, natural ventilation, data center energy consumption, transpired solar collectors, thermal storage in the crawlspace, and electricity generation by photovoltaic panels. Results were either fed back into the main whole-building energy simulation tool or used to post-process model output to provide the most accurate annual simulations possible. This paper details the models used in the design process and how they informed important program and design decisions from design to completion.
Low energy or high-performance buildings form a vital component in the sustainable future of building design and construction. Rigorous integrated daylighting design and simulation will be critical to their success as energy efficiency becomes a requirement, because electric lighting usually represents a large fraction of the energy consumed. We present the process and tools used to design the lighting systems in the newest building at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Research Support Facility (RSF). Daylighting had to be integrated with the electric lighting, as low energy use (50% below ASHRAE 90.1-2004) and the LEED daylight credit were contractually required, with a reach goal of being a net-zero energy building (NZEB). The oft-ignored disconnect between lighting simulation and whole-building energy use simulation had to be addressed, as ultimately all simulation efforts had to translate to energy use intensity predictions, design responses, and preconstruction substantiation of the design. We present preliminary data from the postoccupancy monitoring efforts with an eye toward the current efficacy of energy and lighting simulation methodologies.
Miscellaneous electrical loads (MELs) are building loads that are not related to general lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and water heating, and typically do not provide comfort to the building occupants. MELs in commercial buildings account for almost 5% of U.S. primary energy consumption. On an individual building level, they account for approximately 25% of the total electrical load in a minimally code-compliant commercial building, and can exceed 50% in an ultra-high efficiency building such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Research Support Facility (RSF). Minimizing these loads is a primary challenge in the design and operation of an energy-efficient building. A complex array of technologies that measure and manage MELs has emerged in the marketplace. Some fall short of manufacturer performance claims, however. NREL has been actively engaged in developing an evaluation and selection process for MELs control, and is using this process to evaluate a range of technologies for active MELs management that will cap RSF plug loads. Using a control strategy to match plug load use to users' required job functions is a huge untapped potential for energy savings.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) owns and leases over 354 million square feet (ft2) of space in over 9,600 buildings. GSA is a leader among federal agencies in aggressively pursuing energy efficiency (EE) opportunities for its facilities and installing renewable energy (RE) systems to provide heating, cooling, and power to these facilities. According to several energy assessments of GSA's buildings conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), plug-loads account for approximately 21% of the total electricity consumed within a standard GSA Region 3 office building. This study aims to provide insight on how to effectively manage plug-load energy consumption and attain higher energy and cost savings for plug-loads. As GSA improves the efficiency of its building stock, plug-loads will become an even greater portion of its energy footprint.