Built to last, built to lead

At last count, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory posted a dozen feature stories at nrel.gov about its new Research Support Facility in Golden. But the U.S. Department of Energy has plenty of room to brag about its net-zero 220,000-square-foot building.

The panel of architects who chose the winners in the second annual Colorado Sustainable Design Awards recognized the Research Support Facility for what it was – a showcase designed to demonstrate how office buildings should be constructed and operated. The NREL building was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standards, the highest designation.

You don’t necessarily have to have a giant budget or a colossal project to set a strong example. Sustainable development, our judges believe, should balance energy-efficient and low-carbon footprint features with reasonable costs. The best green buildings should be models that can be replicated, such as the Evie Garrett Dennis school campus (third place in the civic category), which the judges said could serve as the prototype for sustainable schools. (See winners in all categories: Civic, Commercial, Sustainable Communities and Residential.)

This year’s first place winners also included a family-owned brewery in Fort Collins, a residential campus in Denver that features modular construction, and a mixed-use community developed primarily by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe east of downtown Durango. All demonstrate a commitment not only to energy-efficient design but to how they fit in their respective neighborhoods.

ColoradoBiz partnered with the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Urban Land Institute Colorado and the U.S. Green Building Council Colorado to organize the statewide awards program. As Colorado and the United States shake off their economic woes and resume development, we believe new standards are being set for buildings that embrace the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Built to last, built to lead.
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