Exploring NREL’s Sustainable Campus: Highlights from FGIA’s 2023 Fall Conference
Around 40 enthusiastic participants at the FGIA Fall Conference embarked on a captivating journey, touring the sprawling 327-acre National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus nestled in Golden, CO. This vibrant facility is home to cutting-edge research laboratories and serves as the administrative heart of NREL’s pioneering work.
A Commitment to Sustainability
Boldly reflecting NREL’s unwavering commitment to sustainable operations, the main campus proudly showcases several LEED Platinum-rated structures. Moreover, it features a plethora of on-site renewable energy installations, firmly establishing NREL as a beacon of green innovation.
“More Than Just an Office Space” – Dr. Robert Tenent
Dr. Robert Tenent, a distinguished researcher and one of the tour’s guides, shared insights into NREL’s mission. His research at NREL revolves around the development of cost-effective, manufacturing-friendly methods for energy-efficient material production, impacting both energy generation and efficiency.
Cutting-Edge Technology at Every Turn
The NREL campus is a testament to innovation, boasting electrochromatic windows on its balconies and photovoltaic (PV) glass adorning its cafeteria. It champions energy-efficient attributes such as daylighting, natural ventilation, a next-generation data center, and a rooftop PV system. Sustainability extends to decor, with repurposed beetle kill bark and recycled materials enhancing the campus’s eco-friendly charm. Even rocks from the construction process find new life as outdoor decor. Furthermore, the campus caters to electric vehicle enthusiasts with convenient charging stations for staff and visitors alike.
Advancing Energy Research
NREL is at the forefront of energy research, actively working to develop and deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Their dedicated team seeks to advance the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies while providing invaluable knowledge to integrate and optimize energy systems.
The RSF: A Sustainable Marvel
The Research Support Facility (RSF), completed in 2010, stands as a pinnacle of sustainability and a model for modern office building construction. Awarded LEED Platinum status by the U.S. Green Building Council, the RSF shines for its exceptional energy performance and widespread use of recycled and repurposed materials.
Bringing NREL to You
For those unable to experience the NREL campus firsthand, two NREL representatives, including Dr. Tenent and fellow researcher Alliston Watts, delivered a compelling presentation at the conference. Titled “Transforming Energy | NREL Fenestration and Durability Research,” the presentation shed light on NREL’s work in fenestration.
Fostering Innovation Together
Dr. Tenent encouraged manufacturers to engage with NREL in the field of fenestration. Collaborative private sector partnerships play a crucial role in driving research and innovation forward. Notably, NREL’s research on PV windows revealed a remarkable 40% reduction in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in highly glazed buildings.
Alliston Watts emphasized the importance of fenestration durability, particularly in the face of increasingly extreme weather patterns. With a decade of experience in the fenestration field, Watts stressed the need for windows to withstand the challenges posed by changing climates.
Source: FGIAonline.org with additional information added by Apazone