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Energy and Water Efficiency on Campus

NREL ensures the resiliency of our future energy and water systems through energy efficiency strategies and technologies, renewable energy, and water efficiency on the NREL campus.


Energy Efficiency

NREL is committed to the efficient use of resources, including energy. Energy efficiency strategies and technologies integrated throughout the campus include:

  • ENERGY STAR-certified equipment
  • Insulation
  • Natural ventilation
  • Daylighting
  • Passive heating and cooling
  • Plug-load management.


NREL meters electricity, thermal consumption, and energy use intensity in all buildings. All NREL facilities that use natural gas have whole-building gas meters and, where appropriate, all renewable energy production and consumption is metered. NREL uses an energy dashboard and other tools to continuously track energy generation and consumption.

Renewable Energy

NREL has various on-site renewable energy installations that produce power for the laboratory.


A photo of roof-mounted solar panels atop a grey building. A green mesa top can be seen in the background.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems at South Table Mountain Campus and at the National Wind Technology Center have a total capacity of 4.5 MW. PV systems are either directly purchased or acquired through Power Purchase Agreements and the renewable energy credits (RECs) from the majority of these systems are sold to Xcel Energy to support the State of Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard. NREL purchases replacement RECs for these systems each fiscal year (FY).


Aerial view of a wind turbine at NREL's National Wind Technology Center

Wind turbines at the Flatirons Campus have 7 MW of installed capacity, including turbines used for research. RECs from some of these turbines are sold to Xcel Energy to support the State of Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard.


A photo of a wood-fired hot water boiler and woodchips.

NREL's Renewable Fuel Heating Plant (RFHP) is a 9 MBtu/hour woodchip-fired boiler utilizing woodchips from sustainable forest thinning. The RFHP provides about one-half of the heat delivered to NREL's South Table Mountain campus central heating system. There are two ground-source heat pumps on South Table Mountain. Solar thermal energy technologies are incorporated throughout NREL's campus including ventilation air preheating systems and Trombe walls.


A photo of a pond in a grassy area with mountains in the background.

Water Efficiency

NREL is committed to the efficient use of water resources. Water efficiency strategies and technologies are integrated throughout the campus, including:

  • Water-efficient landscaping
  • WeatherTRAK irrigation monitoring system
  • Low-flow and WaterSense toilets, faucets, and showerheads
  • Porous pavements to decrease storm water peak flow rates and enhance water quality through infiltration
  • Water efficient technology to reduce cooling tower water use
  • Storm water detention and ponds to reduce erosion and sediment release downstream by capturing and storing rainwater from all storm events.