As climate continues to change, it’s important that we start planning for a sustainable future – now. NREL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado, is a leader not only in the development of renewable energy technologies but also in making a tangible commitment to reducing its own environmental impact. Some of these initiatives include:
Energy efficiency: significant investments have been made in energy efficiency upgrades to NREL’s buildings and facilities. As a result, NREL has reduced its energy consumption by more than 20% since 2005.
Renewable energy: the lab generates its own electricity from a variety of renewable sources, including solar, wind and geothermal. In 2022, NREL’s renewable energy sources generated over 90% of its electricity.
Water conservation: there are several water conservation measures implemented on the campus, including xeriscaping (a style of landscaping that requires little or no irrigation) and rainwater harvesting. As a result, NREL has reduced its water consumption by more than 50%.
Waste diversion: NREL diverts over 80% of its waste from landfills through recycling, composting, and reuse.
Sustainable transportation: the lab provides employees with a variety of sustainable transportation options, including carpooling, vanpooling, and biking. NREL also has a fleet of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
When it comes to a clean and efficient way to generate power, hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to play a major role in the future. These are devices that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water, making them a zero-emissions source of power. They are very efficient, converting up to 60% of the energy in hydrogen into electricity, and scalable to meet the needs of large power plants. NREL is leading the way in hydrogen fuel cell technology which, if successful both in efficiency and cost in the real-world, will have a variety of future application including to global transportation, stationary power, and distributed energy.
photo: Ulyana Peña, on-site at NREL