Environment and Materials Stewardship

NREL's sustainability programs ensure efficient use of resources, reduce greenhouse gases and waste, prevent pollution, and encourage green purchasing.

Sustainability, successfully integrated with environmental management, protects and enhances the vegetation, wildlife, and natural resources on NREL's campus.

A photo of a falcon flying low over tall, brown grasses

A Golden Eagle flies from a lift to his trainer during research at the National Wind Technology Center to help NREL develop radar and visual systems that prevent bird strikes with wind turbines. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction

A leader in federal greenhouse gas (GHG) management, NREL was the first federal facility to become a partner in the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders program. In addition, the laboratory has played a critical support role in the development of federal guidelines for GHG accounting and reporting through the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program.

NREL takes a lead role among federal agencies in reducing GHGs that contribute to climate change. We demonstrate leadership in GHG management by maximizing the use of energy efficiency practices and on-site renewable power. NREL continuously pursues new technologies and strategies to reduce GHG emissions associated with our operations.

Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention

NREL's waste reduction and pollution prevention programs support sustainability efforts through a reduce/reuse/ recycle/re-buy philosophy, composting, the chemical management system and excess chemical inventory, and pollution prevention initiatives.

Green Purchasing

NREL promotes green purchasing, also referred to as sustainable acquisition, by:

  • Implementing new policies, programs, and training that increase staff awareness and accessibility to sustainable products
  • Providing resources that make it easy for purchasers to find information about green products and services
  • Engaging in contracts with providers of goods and services that are consistent with sustainable acquisitions, practices, and Department of Energy requirements.

Our procurement practices are consistent with all federal green procurement preference programs, including the purchase of environmentally preferable products that are:

  • Manufactured from recovered (recyclable) materials
  • Energy-efficient (such as electronics and computing equipment that are EPEAT registered, ENERGY STAR-rated, etc.)
  • Water-efficient
  • Bio-based
  • Non-ozone depleting
  • Nontoxic.


NREL has earned numerous environmental and sustainability awards from the White House, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Learn More