Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection

Welcome to the summer 2023 Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection Newsletter.

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NREL Celebrates Campus Projects

On May 22, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, along with Colorado Governor Jared Polis and U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, joined other esteemed guests in celebrating NREL's campus projects.

The event was highlighted by a ribbon-cutting of the new Research and Innovation Laboratory, a 15,000-ft2 laboratory space that will focus on research in plastics upcycling, next-generation batteries, and advanced energy materials.

While in town, Secretary Granholm also announced $150 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding earmarked for NREL's campus improvements.

A group of smiling people in suits stand behind a person holding a microphone, two people holding a giant pair of scissors, and a person holding a blue ribbon.

Secretary Granholm, center, cuts the ribbon for the Research and Innovation Laboratory during a ceremony at NREL. Also present were (from left) NREL Director Martin Keller, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and Brian Holland, director of business development for M.A. Mortenson Co., which constructed the building. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

South Table Mountain Energy Park Ushers in New Era

Residents of the Golden and Pleasant View neighborhoods may have noticed a new look at the newly acquired South Table Mountain Energy Park (STEP), formerly a section of Camp George West. NREL's subcontractor has been removing the razor wire along South Golden Road, ushering in a new era for the campus.

This former military base and low-security correctional facility is being transformed into a technological hub for exploring renewable energy practices.

NREL's vision for STEP is to become a welcoming destination and community space for our neighborhoods to learn more about NREL's work in transforming energy. The campus will support diverse, hands-on engagement; celebrate and drive clean energy progress; and impact our world in a tangible way.

Working closely with the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office, NREL will draft a STEP campus master plan that will outline short-, mid-, and long-term developments. Stay tuned for ways to get involved.

Learn more about NREL's campus growth.

Two people in bright vests and hard hats work near a wire fence.
A person in a hard hat wearing working gloves hoists wire above his head.

Crews remove the razor wire at the South Table Mountain Energy Park. Photos by Joe DelNero, NREL

Energizing Our Community

A group of people pose in front of a body of water, trees and grass, with two people holding signs reading, 'NREL.'

Volunteers pose for a photo during a cleanup at Crown Hill Park. Photo from James Bosch, NREL

NRELians continue to engage and energize their community. More than 100 NRELians, family, and friends participated in 11 team volunteer events in the past months, including four 3-day food, clothes, and toddler supply drives. Jefferson County Open Space, A Little Help, the Action Center, Mile High United Way, and Golden High School are some of the organizations benefiting from NREL's generosity.

In June, NREL teamed up with Connecticut-based nonprofit Open Doors Outdoors to clean up Crown Hill Park. Partners, friends, and family members joined in, and close to 40 volunteers collected 69 pounds of trash and recycling. Friendships were made and new opportunities to support our community opened.

NREL Volunteer Corner

Adam Warren

A group of people stand in front of trees and rocks smiling.

The team at Treeline Pass on an outing. Photo from Adam Warren, NREL

Adam Warren, director of NREL's Accelerated Deployment and Decision Support Center, supports Treeline Pass, an Englewood, Colorado, nonprofit co-founded by Warren's wife. Treeline Pass empowers adults with autism and developmental disabilities to cultivate lives rooted in purpose, joy, and growth in an inclusive community environment.

The organization provides 11 adults with job training, supported employment, individualized instruction and opportunities, community enrichment, and social activities at its 4,400-ft2 space. This work is particularly important for this population as it enters adulthood, often losing access to social engagement, transportation, physical activity, employment opportunities, and access to health care.

Warren supports his wife's efforts and assists with donor data management, fundraising events, communications, and grant application reviews. He also makes celebratory dinners when one of her many grants or large donations are awarded.

Kortni Nevins

A person smiling and sitting in a reclining chair with a blood pressure monitor on their arm.

Kortni Nevins donates blood as a way of giving back to the community. Photo from Kortni Nevins, NREL

"I will openly admit that in my youth I did not volunteer a lot," says NREL's Kortni Nevins. "There were many obligatory reasons to volunteer, but recently I have been seeking out opportunities to volunteer within the community because the NREL culture encourages employees to do so."

Nevins first started volunteering in 2017 with the NREL Read With Me program, in which NREL staff spent their lunch hour reading to local first and second graders. A new parent herself, she felt like this was a good fit.

"Volunteering has brought me inner joy and personal fulfillment. Connecting with other humans is truly the crux of a meaningful life," says Nevins. "No one goes through their life alone or without help in some way or another from other individuals or organizations. Helping others and connecting with others is so easy to do; no amount is too little, which makes it easy to fit into a busy life!"

Nevins' commitment to volunteering doesn't stop there.

"More recently, NREL['s philanthropy team] connected me with the A Little Help organization, which provides multiple services for aging individuals," explained Nevins. "I coordinated one garage cleanout, two yard cleanups, and delivery of kindness kits events during the pandemic so my team could get together safely in person and help folks in the community. The feedback from the team was overwhelmingly positive, and they wanted to continue volunteering."

Nevins also gives back to the community by donating blood, having donated almost 10 gallons since her teen years.

"If you can't donate time or money, this is a great way to literally give life to those in need! It usually takes less than 30 minutes, and you get snacks out of it!"

Educational Opportunities

NREL's education programs promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) using clean energy technologies to capture student interest. Learn more about NREL tours and STEM programs for K–12 students, or contact NREL's Education team for additional details.

Tours Are Back

Learn how NREL is transforming energy through research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies by attending an on-site NREL campus tour or virtual NREL campus tour, offered monthly.