ruminations about architecture and design

Thursday, December 2, 2010

a good sustainable building (we hope)

This is the newly completed Research Support Facility building on the Colorado campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It may have a claim to being a net-zero energy building thanks to a holistic design approach undertaken by architecture firm RNL, Haselden construction and Stantec engineering. I often take a skeptical point of view towards some of the trends in the green building movement. This project, which is going for LEED Platinum certification, dispels some of my cynicism. They did a lot of things right here, including limiting the depth of floorplates, orienting the building along an east-west axis, limiting glazing area and paying careful attention to envelope design and ventilation systems. I think it looks good as well--the angled roofs and buff colors blend in nicely with the sublime austerity of the Rocky Mountains. Strict energy management and PV arrays on the roof may help this structure achieve the goal of producing as much energy as it consumes over a typical year.

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