Deep Energy Retrofits Wring More out of Stimulus Investment

Rocky Mountain Institute helping ensure historic downtown Denver federal building is on track to become one of the most energy-efficient office buildings in the U.S.

Snowmass, Colo. - Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) kicked off a massive modernization of the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building and U.S. Courthouse in Denver. A deep energy retrofit will transform the historic, 1960s structure into a high-performing building whose state-of-the-art upgrades are expected to cut the building's energy use by 70 percent each year.

Funded by $129 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the project aims to save taxpayer money by slashing energy usage. The 620,000 square foot office building and courthouse, home to 11 federal agencies, is expected to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification for new construction.

Specific upgrades under the retrofit program include the replacement of all existing doors, partition walls and exterior windows. The HVAC system, fire protection system, electrical distribution system, LED lighting and more are part of the building's retrofit program.

To meet this goal, the design team enlisted the help of Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) as a high performance green building consultant. RMI's deep energy retrofit portfolio also includes the award-winning efficiency design of the Empire State Building.

"Like the Empire State Building, this project will be set apart by the integrative, whole-building design approach that recognizes the interrelationships of building systems and attributes," said Nicole LeClaire, P.E., senior consultant with RMI's buildings practice. "In a deep energy retrofit, often small improvements combine to create substantially larger benefits, achieving bigger energy savings at equal or lower costs."

The Byron Rogers building is the next milestone project under RMI's recently launched RetroFit Initiative, which aims to encourage the retrofit of the U.S. commercial building stock to use, on average, at least 50 percent less energy by 2050 via the wide adoption of deep energy retrofits that save far more energy with positive financial re┬Čturns. Deep retrofits markedly improve the economics of energy efficiency, achieving bigger energy savings (and other important benefits) at equal or lower capital cost.

"This project represents an enormous opportunity to implement sustainable technologies and best practices on a large scale, helping transform the marketplace and drive deeper efficiency gains in large commercial properties," said LeClaire. "The GSA is leading the way on the use of innovative technologies in buildings, and this project can provide a replicable model for how to meet and exceed government mandates and goals."

The design-build team includes:
Mortenson Construction (serving as the design-builder); Bennett Wagner & Grody Architects (serving as architect of record); HOK (serving as the design architect); The RMH Group, Inc. (serving as the mechanical and electrical engineer); Rocky Mountain Institute (serving as the high-performance green building consultant), and Martin/Martin, Inc. (serving as the structural engineer and blast consultant).


About Rocky Mountain Institute
Founded in 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources. RMI's work supports a vision of a world thriving, verdant, and secure, for all, for ever. Its strategic focus is to map and drive the business-led transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. For more information, visit

About RetroFIT
Energy efficiency in the built environment is a key element of RMI's long-term fossil fuel reduction plan. The RetroFIT Initiative aims to encourage the retrofit of the U.S. commercial building stock to use, on average, at least 50 percent less energy by 2050 via the wide adoption of deep energy retrofits that save far more energy, even more profitably, than today's normal practices. For more information, visit