Given NREL's location in the arid southwest, the efficient use of water is essential. NREL's goal is to reduce water usage by 2.1 million gallons by 2015.
All new buildings on NREL's campus conserve water indoors and outdoors, incorporating federal water efficiency best practices like:
- Water-efficient landscaping
- Weather-TRAK irrigation monitoring system
- Water-efficient faucets and showerheads
- Low-flow-water-consuming fixtures
- Pervious pavements to decrease storm water peak flow rates and enhance water quality through infiltration
- Storm water detention and water quality ponds to reduce erosion and sediment release downstream by capturing and storing rainwater from all storm events.
As of 2011, NREL reduced its water intensity by 48% from a Fiscal Year 2007 baseline, and 22% from the previous year. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Energy System Integration Facility opened. This 180,000-ft2 building implements the most efficient cooling tower recirculation practices, with five cycles of optimal use before discharge.
NREL's FY 2013 Site Sustainability Plan provides more information about water usage at NREL.