DOE Recognizes 14 Organizations for Leadership in Building Envelope Design

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Aug 10, 2021

This blog originally appeared August 9, 2021, on DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is recognizing 14 organizations for their leadership in the Better Buildings Building Envelope Campaign (BEC). This campaign, introduced in 2020, involves more than 75 participants in efforts to create more energy-efficient buildings by improving building envelope performance (BEP).

The BEC provides technical resources and recognition to building owners, managers, and contractors who work to improve their building’s BEP. Participants can use the BEC’s building assessment tool to measure BEP and view performance improvement potentials for walls, windows, roofs, and building airtightness. The BEC also provides Solution Packages containing technologies to improve building efficiency, distributes up-to-date technical information and resources to help improve BEP, and offers the chance to collaborate with the BEC’s technical team to develop case studies. The Campaign also works with, and recognizes, supporters including manufacturers, researchers, and industry organizations.

Organizations are eligible for recognition in four categories: Novel 40 and Novel 20 recognize new construction envelope projects that achieve 40% and 20% above a code baseline, while Retro 50 and Retro 30 recognize retrofit projects that achieve 50% and 30% improvement.

The following buildings and organizations are recognized this year for their considerable achievements in envelope performance:

New Construction: Novel 40 Awardees

  • Athens County EMS Station #51, Athens County, Ohio – This new facility was aiming for net-zero and inspired by passive house design. The project was executed under tight budget constraints using local contractors to the greatest extent possible.
  • BVSD Education Center, Boulder Valley School District, Colorado – The BVSD Education Center comprises a series of buildings originally constructed in 1963, with the latest addition completed in 1983. The exterior wall assemblies were constructed using a DuPont Thermax wall system. The system was sealed to itself, and all transitions from the Thermax system to adjacent materials were sealed, particularly windows and doors, top of wall-to-roof, and base-of-wall to foundation.
  • Catalyst, McKinstry, Washington – The Catalyst building is a mixed-use office and higher education building that demonstrates high performance and sustainability through all aspects of building design. The building receives district heating and cooling, which employs high-efficiency equipment with thermal sharing and storage capabilities from neighboring buildings it serves.
  • Credit Human Headquarters, Credit Human Federal Credit Union, Texas – In 2021, Credit Human (a federal credit union) opened a new headquarters building. Energy and water-saving strategies used in the design of the Credit Human building combine to reduce the amount of electricity and potable water needed from the local utilities by 97%.
  • Vergennes Community Housing, Evernorth, Vermont – Vergennes Community Housing is a newly constructed mixed-income multifamily rental property with 24 apartments and a range of indoor and outdoor amenities. The high-performance building meets Efficiency Vermont’s high-performance standard for multifamily housing and was designed and constructed with a passive house air-sealing target.

New Construction: Novel 40 Role Model Awardee

BCH Lafayette Community Medical Center MOB 2, Boulder Associates, Colorado – This new construction medical office building supports an eye clinic and an ambulatory surgery center for a leading Colorado retina practice and will ultimately accommodate four to five medical practices. This building is one of only a handful of projects in the country to showcase emerging hybrid vacuum-insulated glass technology (HVIG), designed to improve energy efficiency and occupant comfort by reducing thermal transmittance and convection at the windows.

New Construction: Novel 20 Awardees

  • Industrial Center Building Addition, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Illinois  – The Industrial Center Building Addition to Fermilab directly connects two existing facilities, thus reducing the exterior envelope. Daily building operations at existing buildings were maintained while sections of the roof structures were reinforced to accommodate snowdrift loads and to integrate building systems such as fire alarm systems.
  • Lubber Run Community Center, Arlington County, Virginia – This building is a replacement of the 1950s-era Lubber Run Community Center. The project’s commitment to net-zero design is underscored by its airtight envelope that is both high performance and cost-efficient. The combination of cast-in-place concrete, copper cladding, and a Thermomass system contributes to a sustainable design and promotes the building’s longevity.
  • Plant Sciences Building, Flad Architects, North Carolina – The new Plant Sciences Building is a 184,000-square-foot platform for interdisciplinary research located in the heart of North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. The greenhouse enclosure is optimized for plant growth, including ultra-clear glass substrates and UV-appropriate lamination interlayers. 
  • Vermeer - New Plant 7, Vermeer Corporation, Iowa – After a tornado in 2018, Vermeer decided to design something great! The building is a 499,000-square-foot building designed for heavy manufacturing. The walls are constructed from 12” thick concrete precast panels. There are Pella windows in every wall panel along the top of the wall to allow for natural light.

Retrofit Project: Retro 50 Awardees

  • AGU, American Geophysical Union, DC – Several years ago, the 1994-constructed original building’s mechanical system began to fail, and the board decided to renovate and strive for net zero. The project worked toward an annual energy use intensity (EUI) of 13 thousand Btu per square foot. Among the many updates that were made, the building fenestration is now made up of triple-pane, air-filled, 1-3/4-inch dynamic glass windows utilizing an electrochromic film for on-demand tinting.
  • ASHRAE World Headquarters, ASHRAE, Georgia – ASHRAE's World Headquarters was built in 1978 and renovated in 2020. Envelope modifications included new XPS insulation with drainage grooves on the inside and stucco finish on the outside to create R17 exterior walls. Spray insulation was applied over existing and new insulation on the structural and acoustic decking, which resulted in a combined total insulation value of R35, and a large all-glass lobby was maintained.
  • Prairie Trails School, FGM Architects, Illinois – Prairie Trail School, a single-story primary school originally built in 1966, recently incorporated several upgrades into the building envelope. A new thermally broken rail system with new insulation was applied to the exterior wall system, and new fiber cement wall cladding was installed over the new framing. The original single-pane aluminum window system was replaced with a new double thermally broken curtain wall framing system with triple-pane dual low-emissivity insulated glazing. The existing roof system was replaced, and the entire building perimeter was excavated, and new foundation insulation was installed.

Retrofit Project: Retro 30 Awardees

  • Building 246, EYP Architecture and Engineering, Virginia – Originally constructed in the 1880s, Building 246 is home to the Regimental Orientation Program for the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the Army’s oldest active-duty infantry unit. While leaving the historic fabric of the envelope untouched, the window U-value, opaque wall R-value, thermal comfort, and other elements were improved. Heat gain and moisture accumulation were mitigated.

Better Buildings Technology Campaigns, like the BEC, involve public and private sector organizations across the country working together to share and replicate positive gains, catalyze change, and encourage investments in energy efficiency. Through Better Buildings, DOE is working to make commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings more energy efficient without compromising comfort or performance.

Learn more about DOE’s efforts to develop, demonstrate, and accelerate the adoption of cost-effective, efficient building technologies on the Building Technologies Office homepage.

The BEC is organized in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects, the International Facility Management Association, and International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants.