The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent from 2005 to 2009.
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., on Dec. 4.
To achieve its new goal, NREL will install two major on-site renewable energy projects: solar cells on a five acre site will provide approximately 7 percent of the Laboratory’s electric needs and a biomass combustion plant fueled by forest thinnings and other waste wood will offset the need for about 75 percent of the natural gas used to heat the Laboratory's research buildings. In addition, 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 Laboratory 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.
“By setting a long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal and committing to reducing its carbon footprint, NREL is demonstrating corporate climate change leadership," said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.
NREL Director Dan Arvizu summarized the Laboratory's position: “I am fully convinced that our mission is both enabled and enhanced by our leadership in sustainability. The employees of NREL are committed to incorporating sustainable principles in our work, and we encourage application of these same principles by our stakeholders. Through our actions we can establish a new benchmark for what is possible."
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.
“NREL places tremendous importance on the need to maintain a sustainable environment in our own workplace. We believe that our Laboratory should use minimal resources while receiving the maximum value from those resources we do use by balancing environmental, economic, and human impacts,” said Bob Westby, manager of NREL’s Federal Energy Management Program and Sustainable NREL lead.