The Leader Magazine

JUN 2018

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14 June 2018 the leader F E A T U R E A R T I C L E W hen leading sustainability "think-and-do tank" Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) decided to locate its new headquarters in Basalt, Colorado, the organization posed an unprecedented challenge to the architecture, engineering and construction industry: create a 100-year-life office building in the coldest climate zone in the contiguous U.S. that would not only generate more energy than it used on an annual basis, but also serve as a replicable model demonstrating the feasibility and financial benefits of a cutting-edge design approach. To ensure the final building would be exceptionally energy-efficient and economically viable and that it would positively affect both occupant performance and the surrounding community, the project team radically altered the traditional project delivery process. This revolutionary approach resulted in the elimination of the heating and cooling systems, adaptation of Factor 10 Engineering – RMI's preferred approach to identifying a single, elegant solution to multiple complex problems – and redefining the overall approach to occupant comfort. The result is the two-story, 15,610-square-foot (1,450-sq.-m.), net-zero-energy (NZE) RMI Innovation Center. The building is certified under LEED (Platinum), Passive House, and Living Building Challenge (Petal); it operates 74 percent more efficiently than a typical office, even without its onsite photovoltaics; and it generates 71 percent more energy annually than it uses. Costs associated with making the building NZE added 10.8 percent to the budget, delivering payback in just under four years. Increased productivity and reduced energy and maintenance costs will contribute more than $2.3 million in savings over a 10-year period. The project provides substantial evidence for RMI's thesis: environmentally responsible, NZE buildings can be beautiful and financially attractive. RMI's net-zero-energy headquarters exceeds performance and financial goals by Kathy Shaloo Berg Photography by Tim Griffith Photography by Tim Griffith

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