Historic Courthouse Gets Net-Zero Retrofit

courthouseThe US General Services Administration (GSA) is aggressively pursuing avenues to eliminate the Federal government’s impacts on the natural environment. To prove that net-zero energy goals can be achieved in a historic building with a bevy of preservation requirements, GSA completed a deep retrofit at the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and US Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colorado.

GSA aligned its sustainability and environmental goals with historic preservation requirements, necessitated by the Aspinall Courthouse’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Through a design-build contract, the renovation project successfully met historic preservation requirements and the Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.

In fiscal year 2008, prior to renovation, the site energy use intensity was 42.6kBtu/ft2, and the annual energy cost was $0.79/ft2. Post-renovation energy use intensity, as of February 2014, was 21kBtu/ft2, with an annual energy cost of $0.53/ft2. The utility rate structure currently does not account for time-of-use or the rooftop photovoltaic system, which would lower the overall cost of the PV system.

The building currently achieves net-zero status with the help of renewable energy purchased from the utility and generated onsite.

The renovation was made possible with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The lessons learned from this historic preservation are detailed in a case study, “Aspinall Courthouse: GSA’s Historic Preservation and Net-Zero Renovation,” prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in partnership with the General Services Administration on behalf of the Federal Energy Management Program.

Maintaining historic buildings with energy efficiency in mind is also a goal in Europe. The Seventh Framework Programme-funded SEEMPUBS project developed a computer-based system that can control lighting, heaters, air conditioners and other environmental units in large buildings. The functionality of the system is being demonstrated at the Politecnico Campus and the Valentino Castle in Italy.


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