RMI's new "deep green" headquarters in Basalt is set to open in 2015.

(Rendering: ZGF Architects. Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Institute)
The Rocky Mountain Institute, long based in Snowmass, Colo., is planning a new “deep green” headquarters in Basalt that will be one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the country.

The energy-conservation think tank founded by Amory Lovins in 1982 is working with ZGF Architects, of Portland, Ore., to design a net-zero office building that will also serve as a showcase for green architecture and design. The building will cost about $7.5 million and is scheduled to open in 2015, according to RMI.

The 16,000-square-foot building will be feature a highly insulated “envelope” – including walls, windows and roof – and photovoltaic cells on the roof. It will serve as RMI’s main headquarters, with space for about 50 employees and a conference center for about 80. The roof will collect rainwater, which will be used to irrigate plants on the property rather than drain into the Roaring Fork River.

Every green-energy aspect of the building will be documented for visitors.

“The story of the building is as important as the building itself,” says longtime RMI researcher Michael Kinsley.

The goal, he says, is for the structure to inspire others – such as business owners, developers, contractors, and architects – to design and build similar, energy-efficient small office buildings.

“If every commercial building in the United States were as efficient as this building will be,” Kinsley says, “enough energy could be saved every month to power new York City for a whole year.”