The U.S. government next month will open what it calls the nation’s largest zero-energy building, a 222,000-square-foot structure on the campus of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory that designers say will consume 50 percent less energy than typical buildings and will generate whatever power is needed on-site. While solar panels will produce energy for the building, a research facility located on the department’s Golden, Colo. campus, the building is also designed to utilize techniques and technologies that employ natural light and the planet’s tendency to heat and cool. The narrow design will allow daylight to enter all work spaces; “smart” sensory technology will alert
occupants when they should open or close windows based on indoor and outdoor temperatures; thick, three-layered walls will control indoor temperatures by absorbing outdoor heat during the day; and a low-energy radiant system will control temperatures through a series of pipes inside the floors that circulate hot or cold water depending on the season. “We went back to simple design techniques that were used before there were electric lights and before we had air conditioning compressors,” said John Andary, a principal at Stantec, the project’s design consultant.
U.S. Department of Energy