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National Renewable Energy Laboratory Drafter/Associate Designer - Cold Climate Building Design in Fairbanks, Alaska

Posting Title

Drafter/Associate Designer - Cold Climate Building Design



AK - Fairbanks


Position Type



Hours Per Week



Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Protocols

Employment at NREL is contingent upon your compliance with all NREL and DOE safety protocols and mitigation efforts directed at the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, NREL requires all employees to be immunized against COVID-19. Upon hire, new employees must be prepared to provide proof of vaccination on your first day of employment. All employees must have completed vaccinations by November 1, 2021.

Working at NREL

NREL’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the farthest-north LEED Platinum buildings in the world. Using a mix of solar, geothermal, biomass, and thermal storage, it is a living laboratory for clean energy technologies in the subarctic. CCHRC is in the heart of Interior Alaska, surrounded by mountains, trails, and rivers, as well as vibrant music, culture, and community. With 22 hours of sunlight in the summer and cold, snowy winters, Fairbanks is an outdoor-lovers' paradise.

From day one at NREL, you’ll connect with coworkers driven by the same mission to save the planet. By joining an organization that values a supportive, inclusive, and flexible work environment, you’ll have the opportunity to engage through our eight employee resource groups, numerous employee-driven clubs, and learning and professional development classes.

NREL supports inclusive, diverse, and unbiased hiring practices that promote creativity and innovation. By collaborating with organizations that focus on diverse talent pools, reaching out to underrepresented demographics, and providing an inclusive application and interview process, our Talent Acquisition team aims to hear all voices equally. We strive to attract a highly diverse workforce and create a culture where every employee feels welcomed and respected and they can be their authentic selves.

Job Description

NREL has an opening for one full-time drafter for the technical team (approximately 25 team members and growing) at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Members of this group focus on developing energy efficient, resilient building technologies for extreme climates. Through its core programs of building science research, social & economic analysis, and architecture and design, CCHRC develops building and retrofit assemblies and techniques, mechanical systems, and foundations that have improved the performance and affordability of homes across cold climates. CCHRC engages directly with indigenous communities and cultures in the research and design process to advance energy justice for all.

The Architecture and Design Team (referred to as the Sustainable Northern Communities team) incorporate these technologies into homes and buildings in Alaska and other extreme climate and remote communities. These demonstration and deployment projects also incorporate local and indigenous knowledge to ensure new technologies are sustainable and equitable. In an extreme changing climate, these demonstration homes require highly innovative technologies such as super-insulated building envelopes adjustable foundations, and resilient energy systems.

This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to join a mission-focused, interdisciplinary team working at the intersection of science, design, culture, and community resilience. The successful candidate will work with designers as well as building scientists, engineers, technicians, and construction trades, on a diverse range of projects concurrently. The primary responsibility will be supporting this design work by providing drafting and design support by using ArchiCAD and/or AutoCAD, and Sketchup software to create design drawings and construction documents. Additional responsibilities will be to support design activities and the research of sustainable construction details, processes, and porotype deployment in extreme, islanded, and remote regions.

For the Research Technician Level II position:

The Research Technician Level II works under general guidance and supervision from the manager and senior analysts. The Level II has general knowledge and intermediate to advanced skills in research techniques and practices.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities of the Research Technician Level II:

  • Variety of technical problems of moderate scope and complexity

  • Established procedures for routine work, but may perform some non-routine tasks requiring the exercise of independent judgement.

  • Responsible for applying or developing new procedures.

For the Research Technician Level III position:

The Research Technician Level III functions independently with minimal supervision and guidance. The Level III has an in-depth understanding and wide application of the technical principles, theories, and concepts.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities of the Research Technician Level III:

  • Provide technical solutions to a wide range of difficult problems.

  • Impact of work is typically to a well-defined area of a project or specific assignment.

  • Solid communication, interpersonal, project management, and customer relation skills.

  • Work is reviewed for soundness of judgement and overall accuracy


Basic Qualifications

For Level II

High School Diploma or equivalent and 4 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience. Or, relevant Associate's Degree or certification program of comparable scope and 2 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience.

For Level III

High School Diploma or equivalent and 7 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience. Or, relevant Associate's Degree or certification program of comparable scope and 5 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience.


Additional Required Qualifications

  • Ability to read construction drawings, details and plan sets.

  • Proficient use of 3D and 2D drafting and modelling software to create detailed, comprehensive construction drawings that include dimensions, procedures and required materials, and the ability to become proficient in new drafting and modelling software quickly.

  • Specific knowledge and experience with ArchiCAD and/or AutoCAD and/or SketchUp.

  • Strong attention to detail and the organizational skills to produce drawings and plans that are organized, clear, easy to read and technically accurate.

  • Experience in complex design and drafting assignments and in reviewing drawings for accuracy and completeness.

  • Ability to work with engineers, architects and builders regarding drafting standards, model design and accuracy, and design documentation.

  • Ability to coordinate the collection of data and incorporate such information into drawings, maps, and schematics, and present final drafted products in a comprehensible manner.

  • Ability to work in a cost-effective, customer-focused, team-based environment.

  • Effective time management and organizational skills.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Specific knowledge and experience with Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign.

  • Interest in design, construction and building science.

  • Expertise in and demonstrated enthusiasm for sustainable energy solutions.

  • Experience in residential and/or commercial construction.

  • Prior or current residence in Arctic climates (such as: Alaska, Canada or Scandinavian countries)

  • Experience living in or working with rural Alaska communities, communities in Arctic/Subarctic climates, and/or experience working with underserved communities.

  • Knowledge and experience with 3D printing and CNC routing, or other advanced manufacturing processes.

  • Experience communicating with diverse audiences.

  • Demonstrated proficiency with Microsoft Office.


Annual Salary Range (based on full-time 40 hours per week)

Annual Salary Range: $41,100 - $65,600

Offers will typically be made in the bottom half of the listed range. NREL takes into consideration a candidate’s education, training, and experience, as well as the position's work location, expected quality and quantity of work, required travel (if any), external market and internal value, including seniority and merit systems, and internal pay alignment when determining the salary level for potential new employees. In compliance with the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a potential new employee’s salary history will not be used in compensation decisions.

Benefits Summary

Benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; short- and long-term disability insurance; pension benefits; 403(b) Employee Savings Plan with employer match; life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance; personal time off (PTO) and sick leave; paid holidays; and tuition reimbursement. NREL employees may be eligible for, but are not guaranteed, performance-, merit-, and achievement- based awards that include a monetary component. Some positions may be eligible for relocation expense reimbursement. Limited-term positions are not eligible for long-term disability or tuition reimbursement.

* Based on eligibility rules

Submission Guidelines

Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any position at NREL you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.


EEO Policy

NREL is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard basis of age (40 and over), color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, military or veteran status, national origin/ancestry, race, religion, creed, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding), sexual orientation, and any other applicable status protected by federal, state, or local laws.

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.

NREL is subject to Department of Energy (DOE) access restrictions. All candidates must be authorized to access the facility per DOE rules and guidance within a reasonable time frame for the specified position in order to be considered for an interview. DOE rules for site access during the interview process are the same regardless of whether the candidate is interviewed on-site, off-site, or via telephone or videoconference. Additionally, DOE contractor employees are prohibited from participating in certain Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs (FGTRPs). If a candidate is currently participating in an FGTRP, they will be required to disclose their participation after receiving an offer of employment and may be required to disengage from participation in the FGTRP prior to commencing employment. Any offer of employment is conditional on the ability to obtain work authorization and to be granted access to NREL by the Department of Energy (DOE). We understand that COVID-19 may have caused delays or closures at offices, consulates, and embassies. However, NREL cannot make exceptions to work authorization and access requirements, and exceptions to these requirements are not being made for COVID-19 related delays.

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