National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Charged with addressing the twin challenges of an aging energy grid and increasing consumer demand for renewable energy, NREL tasked SmithGroupJJR—in a design build partnership with JE Dunn—with designing a facility to test and deploy next-generation technologies and advancements in power production and electrical infrastructure. And since the goal is sustainability for the nation’s energy supply—research, development and megawatt-scale testing of transmission and distribution-level components for future supply and demand systems—plans for ESIF needed to integrate clean and sustainable energy sources and management; the facility must lead by example.

The first of its kind in the country, ESIF houses 200 scientists and engineers in more than 14 highly sophisticated laboratories that include high bay testing spaces and the world’s most powerful computing data center dedicated to energy efficiency and renewables. Yet in spite of the raw power needed for this research, ESIF’s design achieves an ultra-green workplace by employing the most efficient technology available (including computing), recycling waste energy for heating, and under-floor air distribution among other strategies for cooling and ventilation.


Project Type


Golden, Colorado, United States

Related links


  • SmithGroupJJR
  • SmithGroupJJR, JE Dunn Construction
  • Bill Timmerman