Energy efficiency and indoor air quality at a leading national lab
Wind tunnel model of the ESIF on the NREL campus.
In March 2014, R&D Magazine named the Energy Department’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) the 2014 Laboratory of the Year. This international competition recognizes and awards the newest, most innovative laboratories that take efficiency and sustainability into consideration in all aspects of design and construction. Designed and constructed by SmithGroupJJR and JE Dunn Construction, the lab is located on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Campus in Golden, Colorado, and boasts an energy efficient workplace. ESIF consumes 74% less energy than the average United States office building and is designed to meet LEED Platinum-level standards. The building includes energy efficiency features including (but not limited to) natural ventilation, daylighting, open-air cubicles, and radiant heating and cooling.
SmithGroupJJR recognized the need for a building design analysis to insure maximum indoor air quality and efficiency, and therefore contracted CPP’s services. CPP conducted an air quality assessment on the proposed design to obtain accurate concentration estimates at building air intakes and other sensitive locations. This analysis was a necessity due to emissions from various exhaust sources located on and around the ESIF. CPP also conducted an additional analysis to determine the optimum fan operation parameters to meet the air quality design criteria.
Taking into consideration ASHRAE criterion, CPP suggested various improvements to efficiently increase overall indoor air quality. For example, CPP recommended increasing certain volume flow rates and exit velocities in the case of strong winds from various directions, installing appropriate exhaust oxidizers in the exhaust stream, and adding appropriate filters at the air intakes.
The lab achieved all 56 LEED points it pursued, and ESIF’s reduction in overall energy use saved approximately $1 million in annual operating costs. The energy efficiency features, along with various sustainability features, make the ESIF lab one of the world’s most energy efficient and sophisticated laboratory spaces. CPP is proud to be part of the team that helped realize an innovative lab worthy of R&D Magazine’s Laboratory of the Year title.