By Steve Lindenberg, senior advisor, renewable energy
The Energy Systems Integrations Facility (ESIF) at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, is one of the most unique scientific research laboratories in the world. The 182,500-square-foot user facility is America's first to help both public and private sector researchers demonstrate how clean energy technologies interact with each other and the grid at a utility-scale. This allows major changes in energy systems to be implemented and explored without risking the national infrastructure.
The facility houses 15 experimental laboratories and several outdoor test beds, including an interactive hardware-in-the-loop system that lets researchers and manufacturers demonstrate their products at full power and real grid load levels up to 1 megawatt in scale. It now has something else which is very uniqueÃ¢â¬âthe building received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation for new construction by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a rating system intended to help building owners and operators become more environmentally responsible and efficient with resources. Started in 1998, the program has been applied to thousands of projects in the nation and around the world. ESIF achieved all 56 LEED points and the facility is 40% more energy efficient than the baseline building performance rating per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004. For the complete story, see the EERE Energy Blog.