Colorado Laboratory Uses 41 Percent Less Energy than Traditional Labs

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Science & Technology Facility (S&TF) is a 71,300-square-foot structure that houses laboratories, office space, and common areas. Located in Golden, Colorado, the S&TF was designed to assist renewable-energy research and speed up the time to market for these technologies. Staying true to NREL’s mission, the S&TF was also designed to use much less energy than a standard laboratory facility—in fact, it uses 41 percent less energy by cost when compared to traditional labs. The S&TF accomplishes these savings by using an efficient condensing boiler for space heating, and a variable-speed chiller and both direct and indirect evaporative cooling system for space cooling. The building also uses fan-coil units to provide heating and cooling directly to laboratories, reducing the need for inefficient reheat systems. An air-distribution system under the floor provides fan-energy savings and allows the economizer and evaporative cooling system to operate longer by increasing the supply-air temperature. The system uses variable-air-volume boxes under the floor as well, allowing offices individual temperature control and reducing overhead ductwork. The S&TF also uses daylighting in all occupied areas and takes advantage of exterior shading. Furthermore, the laboratory incorporates an automatic lighting control system to curb lighting waste. Additionally, it uses demand-controlled ventilation to eliminate unnecessary ventilation to unoccupied or lightly occupied spaces.

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