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Green and Gold: NIST Boulder's New Laboratory Achieves LEED Gold Certification

Precision Measurement Laboratory

The Precision Measurement Laboratory at the NIST facility in Boulder, Colo., has been awarded LEED Gold certification.

Credit: Copyright Christina Kiffney Photography

The new Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Boulder, Colo., has received LEED Gold certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides third-party verification of green buildings. Among their benefits, LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, reduce waste, conserve energy and water and reduce 'greenhouse gas' emissions.

The PML, which opened last year,* achieved this distinction despite the need to meet many special requirements for its research mission. Stringent controls of the internal environment are required for precision measurements with lasers, atomic clocks and nanotechnology. For instance, mechanical equipment takes in outdoor air and provides filtration, heating and cooling, and humidity control. Air quality is maintained through the use of low-odor adhesives, sealants and paints, and carpet and floor materials that minimize release of chemicals and gases.

Special features that led to the LEED Gold rating include:

  • The overall building design is an estimated 37 percent more efficient than a standard building of the same size.
  • Water savings through low-flow fixtures achieve an estimated 42 percent reduction in water use, and vegetation is naturally irrigated by the ditch running alongside the building.
  • Efficient lighting fixtures reduce energy use by an estimated 47 percent.
  • Variable-speed chillers reduce energy consumption for cooling by an estimated 44 percent.
  • More than 30 percent of the materials used on the project consist of recycled content; 23 percent come from regional sources or from within 500 miles of the project site.
  • Over 90 percent of the wood used on the project is certified and harvested in a sustainable manner.

"This new laboratory and the LEED Gold certification are the result of a close collaboration of NIST facilities and property management staff, the scientists, procurement and safety staff, and many contractors," said Mike Kelley, acting director of operations for NIST Boulder.

The LEED "scorecard" on the PML is available online.

* See 2012 NIST Tech Beat article, "Two New Advanced Laboratories Open at NIST Boulder and JILA."
Released February 20, 2013, Updated July 25, 2018