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U.S. Department of Energy Opens NREL Research and Innovation Laboratory

Published 6/12/2023
NREL - Research and Innovation Laboratory
NREL - Research and Innovation Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy opened the $19.5 million Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in May of 2023 in Golden, Colo. Located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the 15,700-sf facility features 5,500 sf of cross-disciplinary collaboration space for the development of pioneering energy solutions and technologies. Catalyzing innovation at the intersection of chemistry, materials science, bioscience, and engineering, RAIL offers additional wet lab capacity, which is in high demand on NREL’s South Table Mountain campus. Designed by Davis Partnership Architects to support many different user groups, the flexible and adaptable structure includes numerous outdoor settings for interaction. The high-performance facility leverages evaporative cooling and heat recovery systems to reduce energy consumption and minimize emissions. The electrical infrastructure is configured to accommodate a future microgrid, allowing the building to eventually run on completely renewable sources. Design-build contractor Mortenson broke ground in October of 2021 on the sustainable project, which was delivered for a construction contract value of $15.5 million.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will also create the South Table Mountain Energy Park (STEP) on 6.6 acres acquired through a land swap with the state of Colorado. Work will be undertaken to renovate the interiors of the 26 buildings and upgrade all utilities. STEP will eventually become home to NREL’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and Net Zero World Action Center. Sandwiched between STEP and NREL’s main campus will be the state of Colorado’s Global Energy Park (Glo Park) which will offer leasable environments for private companies. 

Additionally, NREL is planning to construct the $165 million Energy Materials and Processing at Scale (EMAPS) facility. Slated for completion by 2027, the 120,000-sf project will accelerate the scale-up and commercialization of new materials, processes, and devices.

Organization Project Role
Davis Partnership Architects
Design-Build Contractor