Computation's Bldg. 451 receives LEED certification as a 'green' facility

May 13, 2011

Computation's Bldg. 451 receives LEED certification as a 'green' facility

Donald B Johnston,, 925-423-4902
It isn't easy going green. Just ask anyone who has worked to obtain certification for Lab facilities under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Computation Directorate's Bldg. 451 is the latest Laboratory facility to achieve LEED certification, earning a Silver Level rating after receiving 58 of 60 points. Bldg. 451, which houses some of the Lab's largest high performance computing clusters, is the fourth building on site to be LEED-certified and the second to achieve a silver rating.

"As was the case in the LEED certification of the Terascale Simulation Facility (TSF), the hard work of the staff of Bldgs. 451 and 453, especially in the area of reducing the energy consumption of the data center, had a major impact on the LEED certification process," said Alison Terill, LLNL principal architect and LEED accredited professional.

The research and documentation phase of the submission process was completed over the span of 13 months, and the review phase took just more than four months, according to Terrill.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, as well as other factors.

Anna Maria Bailey, manager of computation's high performance computing facilities, said that as an older building, Bldg. 451 presented a challenge. Bldg. 451 was built in 1980 and upgraded in 1998 to accommodate the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative's (ASCI) White machine, an IBM supercomputer that has since been retired.

"We had to examine and collect data on all elements of the building's energy management systems as well as water use," said Bailey, who also is an electrical engineer.

Measures taken to earn certification for Bldg. 451 included: energy efficient lighting; adjusting heating schedule; replacing management systems; and installing low flow shower heads. In the building's computer room, which can provide up to 3.6 megawatts of electricity, the temperature was raised, and doors and dividers were installed to better control cooling of the HPC systems. Additionally, windows in the building will be replaced.

These measures will save an estimated $75,000 to $100,000 in energy costs annually.

Bldg. 451's computer room has an industry-standard power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.67, a strong rating for a 31-year-old building. The more recent TSF, built in 2004, has built-in efficiencies that give its computer rooms a PUE of 1.32 (where the most efficient is 1.2 and least efficient 3.0).

Lessons learned from the LEED process will be applied to the effort to certify other facilities. Other computing facilities targeted for certification include Bldgs. 439, 115 and 117. Finding efficiencies across the campus also is important to LLNL's meeting the DOE/NNSA goal of reducing energy intensity 30 percent by 2015.