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Environmental Protection

Photo of tree silouhetted against pink clouds and blue sky.

Credit: Steve Wilcox

Protecting the environment is at the heart of NREL's mission to develop new renewable energy technologies. Workers have a responsibility to incorporate the principles of environmental stewardship and sustainability in their work activities. When planning activities and performing daily tasks, our staff considers the potential impacts to the environment:

  • The amount and type of wastes generated and reduced,
  • The potential release of contaminants to air, land, or water, and
  • The effect activities might have on NREL's wildlife, vegetation, and other natural resources. Links to our most recent wildlife and vegetation surveys are below.

NREL's Environmental Management System integrates the components of environmental protection into the laboratory's management processes and activities. The laboratory's Sustainable NREL program works wth NREL's Environment, Safety, Health, and Quality Office to address NREL's environmental footprint — all areas of potential environmental impact.

South Table Mountain and National Wind Technology Center Sites Support Native Plants and Animals

NREL's two major sites, South Table Mountain and the National Wind Technology Center, are largely undeveloped, allowing for the preservation of habitats that support numerous species of native plants and animals. Our policy is to foster and maintain healthy and vigorous natural ecosystems in the undeveloped areas, as well as in areas adjacent to research facilities and activities.

Workers are encouraged to enjoy NREL's natural resources, but to do so with respect, minimizing impacts on soils and vegetation, and ensuring that wildlife is not harassed or harmed.

Environmental Reports

Annual Environmental Performance

Each year NREL reports on environmental compliance and performance through its Annual Environmental Performance Report. These reports contain detailed information about NREL's compliance programs, programs that support vegetation and wildlife enhancement, and a forward look to upcoming improvements.

Environmental Assessment and Surveys

NREL conducts environmental assessments as required by the National Environmental Policy Act(NEPA) and periodically surveys vegetation and wildlife habitat. Below you will find recent environmental assessments, supplements, and vegetation and wildlife surveys for NREL's South Table Mountain campus in Golden and the National Wind Technology Center south of Boulder.

South Table Mountain


South Table Mountain Site-Wide Environmental Assessment 2014

Vegetation & Wildlife

National Wind Technology Center


May 2014 Site-Wide Environmental Assessment Department of Energy's National Wind Technology Center in Golden, Colorado at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE/EA-1914)

Vegetation & Wildlife