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LEED Platinum Building

Sustainable Development: The RSF Building


sustainable development
Courtesy of DOE/NREL

A Sustainable LEED Platinum Building

Enter the Project Gallery

A sustainable development could be defined as a self-sufficient project that can meet actual and future demand without compromising future resources. A sustainable development can be defined as The Research Support Facility in Golden, Colorado. This ultra-high performance building incorporates several design innovations, renewable strategies and excellent performance, so high, that it will only use 50% of the energy it will use if designed under traditional methods.

This sustainable development owned by the US Department of Energy, has also been certified LEED Platinum for New Construction by the U.S. Green Building Council. More than 220,000 square feet of high performance and avant-garde technologies have been combined to produce this sustainable development aimed to be completed by 2011.

Sustainable Development: RSF Project Team

This sustainable development was built by a team of excellent contractors, and design professionals. Lead by Colorado's own Haselden Construction, teamed with Stantec and RNL Design, team who won a competition for a $64 million sustainable development. Under a design-build approach, the team planned an innovative approach using integrated design and extensive planning, reducing risks and lowering construction-related costs. The final team was formed by:


  • Trautman & Shreve (mechanical), Denver;

  • Weifield Group (electrical), Denver;

  • Rocky Mountain Prestress (precast concrete), Denver;

  • JR Butler (glazing), Denver;

  • Paxton & Vierling Steel (steel fabricator), Carter Lake, Iowa;

  • Architectural Energy Corp. (LEED, daylighting and commissioning consultant), Boulder, Colo.;

  • Technology Plus (IT and AV consultant), Aurora, Colo.

Sustainable Development Features

This 220,000 sustainable development was able to showcase these amazing features:

  1. Building Orientation- This H-shaped sustainable development maximizes the North to South exposure. It provides great daylight and natural ventilation almost everywhere on the building. The 25% window-to-wall ratio, after extensive modeling and cost-analysis, help regulate interior temperatures.

  2. Thermal Mass and Thermal Labyrinth- A massive concrete basement will allow to either release heat during winter months to release cool air to reduce high summer temperatures. The massive S-shaped basement, will direct air into labyrinths two stories up, and traveling down ventilation shafts. The North section of this sustainable development will be used for heating, while the South section will be use for both, heating and cooling.

  3. Triple Glazed Windows- The glass and glazing material went into deep analysis being careful on not to impact the construction costs of the project. Windows can be operated during the day by employees and at night, they can be operated automatically to open to cool the inside of the building. Two new dynamic windows were installed on this project to ensure energy savings: electrochromic and thermochromic. Electrochromic windows tint once a small electric current is applied while thermochromic windows provide resistance to the transfer of heat by reacting to temperature changes.

  4. Transpired Solar Collectors- A technology originally designed by NREL was also used on this sustainable development. Located strategically on the South facade, this dark-colored metal plate, preheated outside air before delivery to the underground labyrinth. A solar collector is warmed by direct sunlight, that will preheat outside air coming into the inside of the building. Then the warmed air is slowly vented into the building through the perforated metal facade plate.

  5. Precast Concrete Panels- These precast panels will be used as the finish side on the interior and the exterior side of the building's. Insulated concrete panel will also play an important role providing thermal mass to regulate building's interior temperature. Panels were made of recycled material forming a layered panel: concrete, insulation and concrete.

  6. Daylighting- This amazing building also embraces the importance of daylighting. All workstations inside the building's are daylit, using a bounce technique that redirects lights to overhead and ceiling areas.

  7. Solar Energy - This sustainable development mitigated the up-front cost for photovoltaic systems using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The PPA allowed to install a 1.6 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) system, that uses more than 1,800 photovoltaic panels being installed on the roof, on a garage and in a parking lot. Power Purchase Agreements are typically used to install renewable energy generating systems without paying high initial costs.

  8. Office Equipment and Computers - Using laptops over desktops, all in one printer centers, and LCD monitors were some of the high-efficiency office equipment that was installed inside the building. Even phone systems using VOIP, that contributes to lower energy use have been introduced on this great sustainable development.

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