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The new Research Support Facility (RSF) at the Department’s National Renewable Energy Lab has quickly become a landmark accomplishment in the world of architecture and commercial building. The RSF shows firsthand that it is possible to build affordable, ultra-efficient office buildings by combining off-the-shelf technologies with thoughtful design. As a result, the RSF has won more than a dozen awards since it opened in June 2010. This week, the influential trade publication Engineering News-Record added to the list of accolades, by recognizing the Department of Energy’s Jeff Baker with its 2011 Award of Excellence for his leadership role in making the RSF a reality.

Thanks in large part to Jeff’s work to coordinate the efforts of hundreds of people engaged in this project from both government and the private sector, the Department of Energy has successfully pioneered an integrated design-build process that shows how meeting energy efficiency goals can be at the heart of controlling costs and delivering a functional building. The RSF provides a living laboratory where commercial building owners, designers and operators can come to learn this process, then apply it to their communities.

Yet, as the editors of Engineering News-Record observe, the RSF is only a single early step in a national effort to realize the tremendous cost-savings that energy efficient buildings make possible. Efforts by both private commercial builders and government, led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, are contributing to the momentum behind the President’s Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to achieve a 20 percent improvement in nationwide commercial building efficiency in the next decade, saving business owners $40 billion each year by reducing their energy bills.

David Moore is an Energy Technology Program Specialist in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.