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Water Efficiency

A photo of water spilling out of a downspout from the roof of a multi-story office building.

NREL conserves water in a number of innovative ways.

A photo of water passing through a landscaped area.

Rain water from NREL's Research Support Facility passes through landscaped areas before discharging into Lena Gulch.

Given NREL's location in the arid southwest, the efficient use of water is essential.

Best Practices

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.

Water Intensity

NREL's goal is to reduce water intensity 26% by FY 2020 from a FY 2007 baseline. In FY 2013, water intensity was 17.5 gallons/ft2, less than a 2% increase from the previous year and 16% less than the reduction target. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF) opened. This 180,000-ft2 building houses a petaflop scale high performance computer that relies on a water based cooling system. NREL anticipates that when ESIF's high performance computer is fully operational NREL's water demands will continue to increase. NREL is committed to using water as efficiently as possible and implements all available measures to reduce campus water consumption.

NREL's FY 2014 Site Sustainability Plan provides more information about water usage at NREL.