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News Release

Energy Lab Reduces Impact on Environment

April 18, 2003

Golden, CO. — Employees at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are "walking the talk" by reducing their impact on the environment at work through the Laboratory's "Sustainable NREL" program.

"Our mission has always focused on a sustainable energy future for our nation and the world," said Bob Westby, leader of the Sustainable NREL program. "Sustainability at NREL, in the sense of an organization and its operations, is the simultaneous and balanced pursuit of economic viability, environmental stewardship and public responsibility over the long-term through appropriate investment decisions and operating practices."

NREL is committed to, among other things, reducing energy use in its building operations, designing energy efficient and environmentally sensitive new buildings, cutting water consumption, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the impact of local NREL travel on the environment, using less fossil-based fuel for local operations, and creating less waste by reducing, reusing and recycling materials for Laboratory operations.

During the past year, Sustainable NREL made impressive progress toward sustainability by:

  • Undertaking an initiative to develop a 25-year site development plan, which will balance development requirements with NREL's mission objectives of corporate energy, environmental and economic responsibility.

  • Establishing a greenhouse gas emissions baseline and a target of reducing those emissions by 10 percent by 2005. In 2002, NREL was the first federal facility member of the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders partnership to be publicly recognized for its leadership in area of establishing greenhouse gas reduction goals.

  • Installing water-use reduction measures including low-flow toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow faucets and showerheads at all of its facilities, cutting water consumption by 16 percent.

  • Purchasing 10 percent of its electricity from Windsource, the largest customer-driven wind energy program in the country.

  • Reducing the Laboratory's use of petroleum-based fuel to less than 500 gallons a year. Twenty of NREL's 48-vehicle fleet are alternative fuel vehicles.

Several of NREL's buildings, including the Thermal Test Facility (TTF) and Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF) are models of energy efficiency. The SERF's annual energy costs are 40 percent below that of a similar building designed to meet federal energy standards, and the TTF operates on a significant 63 percent less energy than a building designed to meet the Federal Energy Code.

NREL's Visitors Center highlights many of the energy saving features embraced by the Sustainable NREL Initiative and is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

NREL is the nation's premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency research, with programs in wind energy, solar energy, plant and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, energy efficiency in buildings, geothermal energy, advanced vehicle design, and hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cells. The Laboratory is managed for the Department of Energy by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel.

For further information contact NREL Public Relations at 303-275-4090.
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