National Renewable Energy Laboratory Energy Systems Integration Facility

Energy Systems Integration Facility
NREL Data Center SmithGroup Science Technology Architecture
Energy Systems Integration Facility
NREL Data Center SmithGroup Science Technology Architecture
NREL Data Center SmithGroup Science Technology Architecture

Charged with addressing the twin challenges of an aging energy grid and increasing consumer demand for renewable energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tasked SmithGroup—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.


US Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Golden, Colorado


Architecture, Government, Government Research, Lab Planning, Interiors, Mission Critical, Programming, Science & Technology


182,000 SF

Featured Awards

LEED Platinum

Arizona Public Service Energy Award -- Laboratory of the Year, 2014

R&D Magazine -- Lab of the Year, 2014

View All Awards

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) -- Technology Award, Second Place – Non-Institutional Buildings, 2018

Best Project: Government/Public Building -- Merit Award


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 the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) needed to integrate clean and sustainable energy sources and management; the facility must lead by example.


Energy Systems Integration Facility

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.

Energy Systems Integration Facility

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. ESIF was named the 2014 Lab of the Year by R&D Magazine.

Energy Systems Integration Facility

No integrated system and component testing capability similar to the ESIF currently exists in the public- or private-sectors, substantiating a clear national need for this level of research and testing.

Dr. Martha Symko-Davies
Energy Systems Integration, Manager-Business Development

NREL ESIF Supercomputer Facility

To support the data analysis required by the various research experiments performed at the ESIF, the facility houses one of the premier data centers in the world. Taking advantage of the regional climate, direct and indirect evaporative cooling is used for most of the year to achieve the environmental limits specified in the Thermal Guidelines for ASHRAE Class 1 data centers, without the need for a traditional refrigeration system. Utilizing direct water-cooled data cabinets in combination with hot aisle containment strategies, the high-power density computing center can operate at an extremely low PUE of 1.06, making it one of the most efficient operating data centers in the world.