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Colorado Research Facility Strives to be Net-Zero Building

Tuesday, March 8th 2011 8:51 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
Colorado Research Facility Strives to be Net-Zero Building  The Research Support Facility is a $57 million building that was constructed in 2008 in the Colorado foothills to serve as an example of a building that generates as much energy as it consumes. As the project nears completion, its designers affirm it is already beating previous energy use forecasts.

The 220,000-square-foot facility opened in June and has so far exceeded the expectations of its head designers at the nation's top laboratory for renewable energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Currently, the Research Support Facility is performing above previous projects, say its architects.

In October, a $34 million expansion is set to be completed; the newest additions to the facility include a solar panel system on its roof and a photovoltaic array atop the building's parking garage. The building is the first of its kind in the U.S. and features environmentally conscious designs throughout; in fact, employees who work in the building even use laptop computers instead of desktops, which environmental advocates assert consume far more energy.

The Research Support Facility will serve as a template for other buildings throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world that hope to reduce carbon emissions and slash electricity use. Though the building is revolutionary in its scope, "there's no magic, mystery foil or high-tech widget that makes the building work," said Phillip Macey, one of the project's principal architects.

With the building's expected completion just months away, Shanti Press, a senior research engineer at the facility, said the building is performing better than predicted and uses about 20 percent as much energy each day as buildings similar to its size.



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