Case study

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) , Golden, CO, USA

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., is the nation’s only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. When it came time to build a $64 million, 220,000-square-foot Research Support Facility on the campus, NREL engineers looked to Uponor radiant heating and cooling to help meet their energy-neutral goals.

“In designing and building the new facility, our aim was to move the needle in how America uses energy to heat and cool buildings,” NREL Senior Engineer Paul Torcellini says. “It isn’t enough to be energy-efficient when commercially viable technology exists to make buildings energy-neutral.”

Among the many groundbreaking innovations that made the facility possible was a new method for installing radiant heating and cooling systems: the Uponor Radiant Rollout™ Mat, which enabled mechanical contractor Trautman & Shreve to dramatically slash labor time and costs. These savings, in turn, helped NREL meet its budgetary goals and tight construction schedule.

Project facts

Golden, CO, USA
Industrial buildings
Completion: 2010

Uponor Involvement

Project highlights

  • 2013 ASHRAE Technology Award Winner
  • LEED® Platinum
  • $64 million research support facility
  • Features Uponor radiant heating and cooling
  • Largest net-zero energy building in the U.S.
  • Increased campus square footage by 60%
  • Only increased campus energy use by 6%
  • 220,000 square feet of office space

Products used

  • 42 miles of Wirsbo hePEX™ tubing
  • Zones from 48 to 250 ft. long, up to 24 ft. wide
  • Loops with 6- to 10-inch on-center spacing

Engineers chose Uponor radiant heating and cooling systems to meet goals for the NREL

High-Performance Design


Centennial, Colo.-based Haselden Construction was the builder of the facility. Haselden Design-Build Project Manager Philip Macey, AIA, LEED AP, helped the project team through critical design decisions based on information in the contractor’s cost model and the design team’s energy, daylighting, natural-ventilation and thermal-mass models.

“Our goal was to maximize the passive performance of this facility,” says David Okada of Stantec in San Francisco. “Then we focused on making the engineered systems as efficient as possible. Thermal and energy modeling provided the information the design-build team needed to keep the design true to the project’s aggressive goals.”

In recognition of Stantec’s engineering consulting work on RSF, the company received the prestigious Engineering Excellence Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies in April.
   

Unique Radiant Installation


Tony Barela, project manager for mechanical contractor Trautman & Shreve, needed an ultra-efficient tool to meet the twin performance criteria of energy efficiency and cost control. “The job schedule was critical on this project,” Barela says. “Working with Haselden Construction, we knew that the five days allocated to us were not enough time to build all the radiant heating and cooling zones. It was critical we find another way.”

Working with local sales agents Tom Meek and Tobi Gibson from TM Sales in Arvada, Colo., Barela and superintendent Don Martinez devised a pre-fab plan for the radiant zones. After mapping out all zones, Trautman & Shreve purchased Wirsbo hePEX™ tubing in standard 1,000- and 500-foot rolls, then using 3-foot plastic rails (with loops in 6- to 10-inch spacings to hold the pipe together in an even width), they prefabricated their own radiant mats.

“Zones on this project ranged anywhere from 48 to 250 feet long and up to 24 feet wide,” Barela explains. “We customized each mat in whatever dimensions were needed.” For example, on the widest zone, four 6-foot mats were connected to complete that zone.

“Overall, we saved 28 days in the construction schedule,” Barela says, estimating the true day-savings was much more like 60 versus the time required in a conventional radiant installation.

It isn’t enough to be energy-efficient when commercially viable technology exists to make buildings energy-neutral.

NREL

Uponor radiant heating and cooling systems featured at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado

Project information

Project information

Country
USA
Completion
2010
Project Type
New building
Building Type
Industrial buildings

Similar projects

Uponor Annex

Uponor Annex

See how our commitment to lean manufacturing, energy efficiency, and providing a superior work environment is showcased in our new...
In place in a couple of days

In place in a couple of days

The waste water channel for the pulp line of the mill, which was renovated in 2017, was commissioned in the 1960s. Now there were fear that it would collapse. The new solution was Weholite.
Plastic pipe withstands mill’s process water

Plastic pipe withstands mill’s process water

Stora Enso’s Imatra mill, located in southeast Finland, annually produces one million tonnes of packaging paper and board. The Imatra mill’s two production units produce raw materials for cartons, in which juice and milk are packaged. Board is also used to produce paper cups, as well as cigarette and candy packages. Board for the graphics industry is used to produce cards, covers and luxury packages.
Leica Camera AG Headquarters

Leica Camera AG Headquarters

The company headquarters of Leica Camera AG features a unique architectural design – controls temperatures with solutions from Uponor and Zent-Frenger.


Bangkok Airport

Bangkok Airport

An Uponor panel cooling system will cool Bangkok's new international airport in combination with a displacement ventilation system.

Centru de agrement

This new recreational centre, to be completed in 2016, is located in Poiana Braşov, a popular Romanian ski and mountain resort, and an important tourist centre for Romanian and international visitors. Many tourists choose Poiana Braşov as a holiday destination because of its beauty and the fresh mountain air. However, many would also welcome a broader range of leisure activities in the area.

Manitoba Hydro Place

Manitoba Hydro Place

See how Uponor hePEX is being used to heat an 18-floor building in a location where temperatures can dip below 0°F...
Northstar Railway

Northstar Railway

See how Northstar's commuter rail platform was made safer with Uponor's snowmelt system. Combatting winter ice required...
Chatterley Valley

Chatterley Valley

The world's first BREEAM outstanding rated logistics building has been equipped with industrial floor heating from Velta UK.
Regional Perinatal Center

Regional Perinatal Center

National Project "New Life - New Quality of Maternity and Childhood " implements the State Agency for Investment and National Projects . The project is implemented on the initiative of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and implemented by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine , National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine , local government and the All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization " Victor Pinchuk Foundation - a social initiative ." He planned to create a national network of perinatal centers of medical institutions III level . Advanced equipment , high level of medical training doctors Obstetricians and neonatologists can significantly reduce maternal , infant mortality and disability.