The US Department of Energy's Energy Laboratory (NREL) has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent from 2005 to 2009, and that reduction will make it the most energy-efficient facility in the federal government. The new goal is part of NREL’s participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Leaders program and was announced at the Climate Leaders meeting in Boulder, Colo., in December 2007.
To achieve its goal, NREL will install two major on-site renewable energy projects: Solar cells on a 5-acre site will provide approximately 7 percent of the laboratory’s electricity needs, and a biomass combustion plant fueled by waste wood will offset the need for about 75 percent of the natural gas used to heat the laboratory’s research buildings. Another feature of the building will be the use of glass and windows to capture daylight.
The NREL is planning to make its buildings more energy efficient through a site-wide energy-savings performance contract. The laboratory also will purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset all of its indirect emissions from electricity use and from NREL operations, such as employee commuting and business travel.
NREL already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent per square foot from 2000 to 2005 as one of the seven original Climate Leaders participants that set goals and met them.
NREL’s participation in Climate Leaders is a key part of the environmental stewardship activities of its Sustainable NREL program, which is responsible for leading the planning, development and implementation of the laboratory’s comprehensive suite of sustainability activities. As a national laboratory, NREL actively shares its experiences with other national laboratories, federal and state agencies and other interested stakeholders.
Climate Leaders is an EPA industry-government partnership that works with companies to develop comprehensive climate-change strategies. Partner companies commit to reducing their impact on the global environment by completing a corporate-wide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions based on a quality-management system, setting aggressive reduction goals and annually reporting their progress to EPA. Through program participation, companies create a credible record of their accomplishments and receive EPA recognition as corporate environmental leaders.