New research facilities at ORNL have been built to the latest green standards.
With six new buildings all LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has made the commitment to practice what its researchers preach about energy efficiency.
Since 2000, when the University of Tennessee and Battelle assumed management of ORNL, six new buildings totaling 750,000 square feet of office and state-of-the-art laboratory space have become home to more than 1,000 of the Laboratory's 4,200 employees. The fact that energy consumption at the new facilities is less than half that of the buildings they replaced is even more significant because they represent a dizzying array of standards that accompany federal, state and privately funded construction projects.
The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and Oak Ridge Associated Universities have achieved LEED silver certification while, across the street, the Multi-Program Research Facility has achieved gold certification. LEED criteria were developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council (www.usgbc.org), a building industry coalition that promotes environmentally responsible technologies. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
To date, the east portion of ORNL is the only fully LEED-certified campus in Tennessee and the only one in DOE's complexes nationwide. The facilities save more than 5 million gallons of water annually through the installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures. In addition, three-fourths of all occupied spaces receive natural lighting, and hybrid solar lighting units are being installed at the Multi-Program Research Facility. This system, which collects sunlight with 48-inch-diameter dishes and channels the sunshine into buildings through optical fibers connected to hybrid light fixtures, can save up to $1 million per 100,000 square feet over 10 years.
In the first two months of operation, three of the six new buildings saved more than 5.5 billion British thermal Units (Btu). One Btu is the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
The new buildings feature materials selected for their recycled content, low emissions of volatile organic compounds, insulation value and durability, cost and aesthetic value. Carbon dioxide monitors and high-efficiency air filters ensure good indoor air quality. Other features include efficient lights, occupancy sensors, Energy Star office equipment and variable frequency fan drives that keep energy use low.
While these buildings cost more to build, the additional expense is minimal, adding 1% to 2% to the construction cost, according to ORNL facilities guru Lanny Bates, who noted that, "in the end you have a building that will help conserve resources, improve air and water quality, and make a statement."
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations