A recent article in the New York Times features the National Renewable Energy Lab’s new, 220,000 sf, hyper-efficient office building in Golden, Colorado. This amazing building is, to date, the largest net-zero energy office building in the nation. There are an increasing number of examples of net-zero commercial buildings in the world, but none of this scale.
Many small moves in the design and operation of the building, from providing a signal on the computer screens of the building occupants that lets them know when it is actually beneficial to open the windows, to rethinking the schedule of the cleaning staff, to conscientious design for the use of daylight, along with the 55,000 sf 1.6 megawatt PV array, combine to produce this delicate balance of supply and demand for energy. Most of the strategies are well tested and cost-efficient resulting in construction costs below the average cost for a new, super-efficient commercial office building. In other words, for the cost of building a new office building that would meet the Massachusetts Stretch Code, you could probably build a net-zero office building.
This project demonstrates that net-zero and even energy positive commercial buildings are within reach. The knowledge and technological advances of the last decade have caught up with our dreams and should cause us to recalibrate the scale of what is possible.
Additional information about the building can be found here.