Case Studies:

Research Center's Laboratory

  • System Specs | 312 kW
  • System Production | 12% of the buildings’ electricity load
  • Environmental Benefits | 37% less CO2 than a non-LEED certified lab

Maryland Research Center LEEDs With Solar Power

A specialized research laboratory in Edgewater, Md., houses 15 laboratories that conduct environmental research on topics ranging from mercury and nutrient-pollution to genomics and climate change. Prior to the construction of the laboratory, the labs were housed in a cluster of office trailers, which made collaboration between the scientists difficult.

The construction of the 92,000-sq.-ft. laboratory enables the scientists to move freely between disciplines and collaborate on their groundbreaking research. It took 24 years of planning to bring the project to fruition, and the lab is now a LEED Platinum certified building.

The lab was envisioned as being the headquarters for environmental research, as a LEED Platinum Certified facility (the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest LEED designation) and as the organization’s most sustainable building to date. To reach the Platinum designation, the lab had to earn 52 credits from the USGBC. Part of the LEED mandate was to make the building’s energy supply as self-contained as possible. This caused a conundrum in the planning: What energy source could produce enough power for a building that consumers nearly four-times as much energy as other buildings? The answer, it turned out, was solar.

Working with Noresco, Standard Solar was engaged to collaborate with the building’s designers. The rooftop and carport solar installations had to produce enough electricity to meet the strict LEED Platinum standards. Standard Solar’s engineering team collaborated with the project design managers to ensure solar achieved the goals and were incorporated into the building design.

To maximize solar energy production, Standard Solar confirmed the roof and electrical designs of the building were ideal. The engineers from Standard Solar also offered their best-practices experience in the development and design of the PV carports and provided provisions for future electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Together, the rooftop arrays and the carports supply 312 kW of energy for the building, comprising 12% of its total electricity needs. In addition to the PV arrays, the laboratory also makes use of numerous renewable energy elements including a geothermal system, rain water recovery, passive solar designs and a solar thermal system that heats a closed-loop domestic hot-water-production system.


The lab is in full operation and has achieved LEED-Platinum certification.

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