PNNL gets gold for building green

RICHLAND -- A focus on green operations and construction materials at new laboratory buildings in Richland has been recognized with gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory opened the Biological Sciences Facility and the adjoining Computational Sciences Facility last fall. The buildings cost about $77 million and provide work space for about 300 employees.

About 78 percent of the materials used in construction were recycled, including leftover material when work was completed that will be recycled. The buildings also use 35 percent less energy than if they had been designed only to meet current building codes.

Both buildings warm offices and labs with heat produced by computer servers in the Computational Sciences Facility that otherwise would be wasted.

Low-flow and motion sensor-activated water fixtures help reduce water use by 30 percent.

In addition, the buildings use low-mercury lighting and take advantage of PNNL's labwide comprehensive recycling program and environmentally friendly cleaning practices.

"PNNL is thinking green," said PNNL architect Gary Watkins.

Gold status is the second-highest rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Green Building Certification Institute.

Few of the 49,000 LEED-certified building projects worldwide are research laboratories and very few of those are certified to the gold level, according to PNNL.