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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.

FY16 Energy Intensity. The South Table Mountain Campus reported a total energy use intensity of 146,399 Btu/GSF on the campus. Energy consumption included 89,596 MBtu from grid electricity, 15,878 MBtu from solar PV, 1,800 MBtu from renewable fuels heating plant, and 56,693 MBtu from natural gas. The National Wind Technology Center reported a total energy use intensity of 67,898 Btu/GSF on the campus. Energy consumption included 2,917 MBtu from grid electricity, 5,658 MBtu from solar PV, 3,647 MBtu from wind, and 2,605 MBtu from natural gas.

Energy

Energy Efficiency

Energy use intensity at NREL is below the U.S. Department of Energy's goal with a value of 133,395 Btu/ GSF, a 48% decrease from the 2003 baseline. Energy efficiency strategies and technologies are integrated throughout the campus, including:

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

Metering

NREL meters electricity, thermal consumption, and energy use intensity in all buildings via more than 297 advanced meters. 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.

Solar

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).

Wind

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

Wind turbines at the National Wind Technology Center have 10.2 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.

Thermal

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 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.

Water

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

Water Efficiency

NREL's goal is to reduce water use intensity 36% by FY 2025 from a FY 2007 baseline. In FY 2015, water intensity was 16 gallons/ft2, 42% lower than baseline.

Water efficiency strategies and technologies are integrated throughout the campus, including:

  • Water-efficient landscaping
  • Weather-TRAK 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.

Read NREL's Site Sustainability Plan FY 2016 to learn more about energy and water use.