This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 19, 2003

NRDC Opens Highly Energy Efficient Building in California

Santa Monica may now be home to one of the "greenest" buildings in the nation with the opening last week of the new Southern California office of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The new building reduces electricity consumption 60 to 75 percent by maximizing natural light and using efficient fixtures and appliances, task lighting, dimmable electronic ballasts, occupancy sensors, and extra insulation. Its air conditioning system uses "displacement ventilation," in which cool air is supplied at floor level to displace the hot air, which rises to the ceiling and is extracted from the building. The building also meets 20 percent of its electricity needs through rooftop solar cells. It is being considered by the U.S. Green Building Council for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Version 2 Platinum green building rating ? the highest possible level of sustainable design ? and may become the first structure in the United States to achieve this status. See the NRDC press release and the online tour.

For more information on LEED ratings, see the USGBC Web site.

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air- Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE, displacement ventilation systems, such as the one in the NRDC building, have the potential to improve indoor air quality while saving energy. Although many Scandinavian countries use them, the systems are less common in the United States. To encourage their use, ASHRAE released new design guidelines for the systems in late October. See the ASHRAE press release.