NIST laboratory earns LEED Gold status

BOULDER – A new precision-measurement laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder has received LEED Gold certification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification consists of a suite of rating systems developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for the design, construction and operation of high-performance commercial buildings, homes and neighborhoods.

LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The laboratory, which opened last year, requires stringent controls of the internal environment 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 laboratory’s 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.

More than 90 percent of the wood used on the project is certified and harvested in a sustainable manner.

The LEED “scorecard” on the laboratory is available at

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