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Boulder Laboratories Master Plan

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) maintains a master plan and associated environmental assessment for the 206-acre Department of Commerce (DOC) Boulder Laboratories campus located in Boulder, CO. The master plan provides a framework for the future physical development of the campus in support of the DOC Boulder Laboratories' mission of advancing science and technology.   It emphasizes quality and collaborative research with sustainable and efficient operations.  In addition to existing and future facilities, the master plan addresses roads and entrances, parking, pedestrian and bicycle access to and through the site, landscape and storm water management, cultural resources, the site utilities infrastructure, energy and water conservation, and sustainability. Agreements with the City of Boulder and Native American Tribes have been respected and all designated Protected Area, more than 100 acres of open space, continues to be preserved.  

The final master plan documents current needs as well as projected future requirements, and articulates a vision for sustainable campus  development over twenty years through proposed projects  grouped into phasing packages.  While many of the existing buildings are retained, the master plan includes replacement of laboratories, reuse of an older lab building for a campus center, and a new "campus green" that compliments the stunning view and surroundings.  The campus green serves as a connecting element for the buildings and the campus itself, and features an "arroyo" for on-site storm water retention.    

An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The EA considers the effects of the "Proposed Action" (the master plan) and a "No Action" alternative on the natural and human environment, and includes proposed mitigation measures for anticipated impacts.  DOC has determined that no significant impacts to the environmental conditions of the DOC Boulder Laboratories campus and/or the surrounding community will result from implementation of the Master Plan (Proposed Action).

Actual realization of the master plan, or any specific project within it, will depend on priorities of the Department of Commerce, Congressional and Presidential policy decisions, and federal budgetary decisions.

NIST, with participation from NOAA and NTIA, served as the lead bureau in the development of the master plan and EA. Master planning is the responsibility of the Office of Facilities and Property Management, NIST.

The NIST team responsible for development of the Boulder Laboratories Master Plan was awarded the Department of Commerce 2018 Energy & Environmental Stewardship Award for "development of a comprehensive Master Plan for the NIST Boulder campus that provides the framework for future development and articulates a sustainable vision for campus development over the next 20 years.  The Master Plan identifies future savings through more energy-efficient facilities, sustainable site planning efforts, and reduction of the campus's carbon footprint, energy consumption, and labor-intensive grounds keeping practices."

Boulder Campus Illustrative Plan
Department of Commerce Boulder Laboratories Campus Master Plan - Illustrative Plan (Credit: Metropolitan Architects & Planners, Inc.)
DOC Boulder Laboratories Campus Master Plan and Environmental Assessment, June 2017
The final master plan and EA documents can be downloaded here:

Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment, October 2016
The draft master plan and associated draft environmental assessment (EA) were made available to Federal, State and local agencies, Native American Tribes, interested parties, the general public and DOC Boulder Laboratories staff for review and comment.   Comments were accepted from October 19, 2016 through December 5, 2016, and all comments were considered in preparation of the final Master Plan and EA.  

Draft Master Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment Presentation
A presentation was provided to the City of Boulder City Council on October 18, 2016:

City Council Briefing 10-18-16

Public Meeting, January 2016
A public informational meeting was held on January 12th at the Boulder Public Library Canyon Theater. The purpose of the meeting was to notify the public that the Department of Commerce was preparing an environmental assessment (EA) for the Boulder Laboratories campus master plan in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, and to afford the public an opportunity to comment on the scope of the master plan and EA. Written comments were accepted through February 12, 2016. The presentation and handouts are available here:

DOC Boulder Laboratories Master Plan Public Presentation 1-12-16
DOC Boulder Laboratories Master Plan Handout 1-12-16

Information requested at the 1-12-16 public meeting can be found here:

DOC & Consultant Representatives
In Progress Master Plan Program (superseded by program information in final master plan)


Created December 22, 2015, Updated April 17, 2023