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Boulder Laboratories Building 1 Renovation (+$25.4 million)

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Building 1 is nearly 60 years old and houses the majority of NIST research and measurement programs on the agency’s Boulder, Colo., site. However, the aging building cannot provide the tight control of vibration, temperature, and air quality required for 21st-century research needs.

The poor condition of Building 1 causes an estimated loss in productivity of at least 20 percent due to the need to repeat experiments to produce quality research results and compensate for poor controls in other ways. Averaged results from economic studies conducted in a number of different industrial sectors have found that a dollar invested in NIST research produces about $40 in U.S. economic and social benefits. This means that the $10 million loss in NIST Boulder research productivity potentially results in $400 million annually in unrealized economic and social benefits for the U.S. overall.

Poor laboratory controls also frequently cause the loss of delicate nanoscale devices. Even for the limited range of work that can be attempted, current laboratory conditions create large inefficiencies as well as safety concerns. Ventilation systems do not supply adequate fresh air for modern laboratory work, electrical systems contain asbestos and do not meet current codes, lighting is poor, and most of the building is not protected by a fire sprinkler system contributing to potential life and occupational safety hazards.

A detailed 2006 facility review found that less than 25 percent of NIST Boulder laboratory space performs to required specifications. Some high-performance laboratory space will be provided by the NIST Boulder Precision Measurement Laboratory currently under construction. Yet, even when this space becomes available later in 2011, more than 50 percent of NIST Boulder laboratory space must undergo extensive renovations to ensure that the Institute can perform the exacting, precision measurements required to meet its mission.

Proposed NIST Program

This initiative is part of a comprehensive, multi-year plan for the phased construction of new space and renovation of Building 1 at the NIST Boulder laboratories. This request will support:

  • completion of interior renovations of Wings 3, 5, and a portion of Wing 6.  The remaining interior wing renovations will be completed with future funding requests.
  • approximately 22,500 gross square feet (2,090 square meters) of temporary swing space to accommodate the renovation; and
  • use of green construction technologies, including conservation of water, energy, and construction materials.

Expected Impacts

The successful renovation of Building 1 is a critical step to ensure that NIST can more effectively support key national technology priorities in homeland security, telecommunications, nanotechnology, precision timing, hydrogen energy sources, precision electrical standards, biotechnology, applications of lasers, electromagnetic interference testing, quantum computing and quantum communications, and other national needs.


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