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NIST Submits Updated Master Plan for Gaithersburg Campus

Roadmap Features New Buildings, Energy, Environmental Improvements

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Planned and potential expansions and new facilities across campus, the addition of 400-500 kilowatts in power from solar panels, and increasing already heavy employee use of alternative transportation to a daily rate of 40 percent are among the highlights of an updated Master Plan for the Gaithersburg, Md., campus of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has delivered its plan to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the central planning agency for federal land and buildings in the National Capital Region. 

The document lists planned and possible future additions and improvements to the Gaithersburg campus; their actual implementation will depend upon available resources in the NIST budget. Several projects, however, are already funded explicitly by the Congressionally approved NIST spending plan for its construction funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), as well as NIST's approved spending plan for its Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 operating budget. 

Detailing both planned and potential new buildings and additions to be constructed on the agency's 235-hectare (580-acre) Gaithersburg campus, as well as a host of energy, environmental and transportation improvements, the plan is the first major NIST facilities update since the 1990s and is designed to meet current NCPC requirements.

The Master Plan anticipates NIST facilities needs through 2020 and beyond. It serves as both the vision and physical framework for developing and improving the Gaithersburg site by incorporating currently planned projects as well as potential future improvements. In accordance with NCPC guidelines, NIST will review the Master Plan on a periodic basis to ensure that it remains current and will keep NCPC informed of needed updates.

"The Master Plan is not a static document, but a living one that will be adaptable to NIST's future needs," says Stella Fiotes, NIST's Chief Facilities Management Officer. "It is a roadmap to advance our research mission, support federal initiatives on energy conservation and sustainability, and improve the workplace environment while maintaining our efforts to be good citizens of the City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County."

Built in the early 1960s, the NIST-Gaithersburg campus now includes 55 buildings, with approximately 3,600 employees, guest researchers and contractors on campus during an average workday. An average of 546 visitors comes to the NIST Gaithersburg campus every day.

In all, the Master Plan describes new construction projects totaling more than 10,000 square meters (100,000 square feet), including:

  • a NIST Child Care facility, funded by NIST's FY 2009 budget, will be designed to accommodate 154 children. Scheduled for completion in mid-2011, it will replace the existing NIST child care center, which is housed in a 40-year-old building and currently accommodates 94 children;
  • a Robotics Facility, funded by ARRA, will be devoted to the development, fabrication and testing of robotics systems and components;
  • a consolidated Fire and Police Emergency Services facility, funded by ARRA, will house police, fire and emergency services staff in the same building; these groups are currently dispersed throughout the campus in outdated facilities;
  • a National Structural Fire Research Laboratory, funded by ARRA, will support innovation in the design of new fire-resistant materials and structures; and
  • a Net-Zero Energy Residential Building, funded by ARRA, will test and measure state-of-the-art residential-building components and technologies and develop ways to measure energy flow in a residential building as an entire interconnected system in order to meet the energy requirements of the home.

"The funding from the Recovery Act will create many construction-related jobs," says NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher, "and our improved infrastructure will significantly help us maintain U.S. leadership in innovation and industrial competitiveness."

The plan also proposes additions to existing NIST buildings, as well as renovations to NIST general purpose laboratories, some of which are more than 40 years old, to bring them in line with present-day scientific needs. The Master Plan does not anticipate any net increase in NIST employment resulting from the proposed expansions and additions.   

The Master Plan also initiates and continues a host of energy and environmental improvements on campus, including the installation of photovoltaic solar panels that deliver 400-500 kilowatts (kW) of power on campus to supplement NIST's existing 28 kW system; replacing energy-leaking windows and installing wall insulation in many older NIST buildings; and replacing obsolete laboratory chemical fume hoods with modern, energy-efficient hoods. 

The Master Plan also proposes transportation improvements and incentives aiming to reach goals that include:

  • reducing the use of single-occupant vehicles by NIST employees to 60 percent by 2020. From 1990 to 2008, single-occupant-vehicle use has decreased from 75 percent to 68.3 percent;
  • increasing the use of all other transportation methods to 40 percent. Currently, 31.7 percent of NIST employees get to work by using alternative methods of transportation, including public transit, rideshares, bicycling and walking, up from 25 percent in 1990;
  • improving pedestrian and bicycle networks on campus; and
  • increasing the use of public transit to 20 percent by 2020. The use of public transit by NIST employees has increased from 1.1 percent in 1990 to 14.9 percent in 2008.

NCPC will distribute the plan to multiple agencies, including the City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County government, for their input, and an NCPC commission will review and consider a finalized version of the plan at a Dec. 3 meeting.

As a non-regulatory agency, NIST advances measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Released September 14, 2009, Updated January 24, 2023