Essential to the lab's sustainability efforts is helping sustain the community by supporting economic development and sharing knowledge and resources with the community by hosting visitors and creating educational opportunities.
These efforts help sustain the community in many ways, including:
- Boosting the local and state economy with clean-energy industry and jobs, enabling more support to charitable organizations
- Transferring research and innovations to the market place
- Partnering with public and private organizations to help them replicate the lab's sustainability model
- Educating learners at all levels on how to live and work more sustainably—saving energy and money, and improving the environment.
NREL's net economic benefit to Colorado's economy grew to $814.8 million in fiscal year 2012, according to a study by the University of Colorado's Leeds College of Business. Jefferson County, where NREL's main campus is located, saw the greatest economic impact at $274.6 million.
NREL's economic impact grew 38.5% from FY 2009's $588.3 million, and the laboratory supported approximately 2,300 jobs in 2012. NREL is one of Jefferson County's largest employers, the study says. See the NREL news release for more details.
In addition, NREL participates with local economic development organizations across the state, such as the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Jefferson Economic Council, to attract clean-energy companies to the region. The laboratory also provides technical counseling, special workshops and forums, speakers, and hosts visits for these organizations.
NREL experts act as advisors to the Metro Mayors Caucus and the Boulder Advisory Council on Climate Change. These advisors are an important resource, providing information on energy efficiency and energy cost savings for the community at large. Sustainable NREL staff participate in local forums including Collaborative Organizations for a Responsible Environment (CORE) and the University of Colorado at Denver's Sustainable Advisory Committee.
Regional and Local Planning
NREL coordinates with local and regional planning organizations and government agencies to improve land use, transportation, growth, and sustainability within the community.
Employees are very involved in the community, giving their time, money, and energy. As staff levels have grown, so have their contributions, making NREL Jefferson County's leading large-business contributor for three consecutive years in charitable giving. Beneficiaries include the Partnership for Colorado and Mile High United Way.
NREL's Education Center features interactive exhibits about clean-energy technologies and periodically hosts tours and events. A community asset, the Education Center serves nearly 30,000 visitors per year—including the general public, students and educators, and leaders of government and private organizations.
Educating students, teachers, professionals, and consumers about clean-energy technologies and strategies helps promote sustainability and the use of clean energy to power our homes, businesses, and cars. Teachers and students of all ages are offered opportunities to learn about renewable energy through NREL's Education Programs. In addition, executives throughout the country are able to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, analytical tools, and financing through NREL's Executive Energy Leadership Academy.
For more information on NREL's benefit to the community, see page 36 of the Sustainable NREL Biennial Report FY 2010–2011.