Materials Stewardship

NREL's sustainability programs ensure efficient use of resources, reduce 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.

Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention

This infographic shows NREL's FY 2021 waste management performance. In FY 2021 NREL recycled 47% or 303,337 pounds of waste. 8% or 50,915 pounds were composted, and 45% or 288,001 pounds went to a landfill.

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.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, NREL's waste management performance resulted in diverting 42% of waste from landfills. Recycled materials included batteries, computer monitors, e-waste, lightbulbs, paper, styrofoam, and cooking oil from the cafeteria.

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 or ENERGY STAR-rated)



Non-ozone depleting



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