Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection

Welcome to the Fall 2021 Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection Newsletter.

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In this Edition

Construction To Begin on New Building on Golden Campus

President Biden Visits NREL's Flatirons Campus

2021 Energy Execs Class Graduates

NREL Employees Raise Over $10,000 for Community

Volunteer Spotlight: Transforming Energy and Trails

Construction To Begin on New Building on Golden Campus

NREL is breaking ground on an exciting new project on our South Table Mountain Campus—our Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). When completed, RAIL will be a flexible, multipurpose lab space to support growing cross-disciplinary research in the energy fields. The project furthers NREL's mission to create a clean, equitable, and efficient energy present and future.

Construction officially began on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, and will continue through December 2022. Initially, work will involve site preparation activities.

Here's what our South Table Mountain Campus neighbors can expect in the next few months:

  • Increased worker vehicle traffic via the south entrance along Research Road (peak times of 6–7:30 a.m. and 3:30–4 p.m.)
  • Heavy equipment and construction deliveries at the east entrance
  • Construction work hours of 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday–Friday
  • No anticipated work on weekends or evenings
  • No anticipated road closures throughout construction activity
  • No anticipated impacts to utilities (water, gas, electricity) in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Questions? Please contact the NREL External Relations Team.

President Biden Visits NREL's Flatirons Campus

President Biden speaks during a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Flatirons Campus.

NREL was excited to host President Joe Biden at its Flatirons Campus in Arvada, Colorado, on Sept. 14, where NREL leadership had the opportunity to talk with him about the laboratory's research facilities, capabilities, and critical initiatives. During the visit, the president also spoke to a livestream audience and attending news media about his plans on infrastructure, environmental justice, and the climate crisis. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, and other political dignitaries were also in attendance.

President Biden is the third U.S. president to visit NREL's campuses, and this was his second visit to an NREL location, after touring the South Table Mountain Campus in 2011 as vice president. President Jimmy Carter paid a visit to NREL, known then as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), in 1978, after establishing SERI in 1977 to focus on solar energy technologies. President George W. Bush led an energy panel discussion at NREL in 2006.

Read more about President Biden's visit.

Congratulations to the Energy Execs Class of 2021!

For 13 summers, NREL has hosted industry executives, community leaders, and elected officials from around the country to learn about everything NREL. In the Executive Energy Leadership Academy, or Energy Execs, participants receive in-depth looks at topics such as solar energy, wind power, bioenergy, transportation, and building technologies.

2021 was different, as applicants who were scheduled to participate in the 2020 program finally received their chance—but on a virtual basis. Although their experience was not the same as coming to the laboratory and seeing the campus and projects in person, class members remained upbeat throughout the series of web meetings. And experts from NREL still relished the opportunity to share their amazing work and answer questions for those who wanted to share ideas and best practices with their respective communities and organizations.

Andy Berger, who represented the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in Westminster, Colorado, was one of 18 leaders to participate in this summer's virtual program.

"Energy Execs provided a fulfilling opportunity to interact with the lab's talented researchers, partnership developers, and leadership team," Berger said. "I'd recommend [Energy Execs] to those who work in energy and have an interest in professional growth through learning about NREL's capabilities and their potential applications."

Learn more about the Executive Energy Leadership Academy, and see a list of alumni.

NRELians Raise Over $10,000 for the Community

NREL employees came together for a second year via a virtual summer event to raise funds in support of various charities. Overall, NRELians raised over $10,500, surpassing last summer's giving total by more than $8,000!

"NREL is a long-standing champion of our community," said Erin Atwell, CEO of Community Shares Colorado. "We're grateful for their continued commitment, the elevation of the importance of volunteerism, and celebrating the many ways NREL employees keep engaged."

For the second-straight summer, NREL hosted a virtual monthly summer speaker series, where employees were able to learn about community partners and other opportunities to stay connected with the community. The series also featured NREL volunteers who found ways to keep engaged and lend support to the causes they are passionate about.

Volunteer Spotlight: Transforming Energy and Trails

At NREL, our goal is to make the world a better place, including in our own backyard.

Stuart Cohen, an energy systems analyst at NREL, does this by volunteering as a trail maintenance crew lead at North Table Mountain and South Table Mountain in Golden. Located next to NREL's campus, this space includes more than 30 miles of trails. Stuart and two of his work colleagues, Matt Irish and Hilary Sewell, saw the need to give back to the community and our local public lands, so they started the Education, Stewardship, and Community Action for Promoting Environmental Sustainability volunteer network at NREL. Through this network, and in partnership with Jefferson County, NRELians come together to maintain nearby trail systems.

On an occasional evening after work, NREL volunteers gather at the North or South Table Mountain area, ready to start a new project. After learning safety best practices and trail maintenance basics from Stuart, the crews head up the trail with their tools and spend a few hours working together to make sure our well-loved trails are safe and sustainable. On any given workday, the volunteer crew will maintain water diversion features to ensure the trails do not collect water or erode, manage vegetation to keep trails clear and stop the spread of invasive species, and block unofficial or social trails that lead to erosion and ecosystem damage.

Stuart first became interested in trail maintenance through his hobby as an avid trail runner. He noticed there were not a lot of running groups leading trail maintenance and wanted to change that. Stuart and a group of other trail runners worked with Jefferson County to complete the crew-led training so they could represent the trail running community and give back to the trails they love. He has since expanded this to include the NREL community and enjoys bringing people together to help our public lands.

"My favorite part is getting to talk about trails," Stuart said. "I get really excited to share what I know about how trails are made, explain why the land is managed the way it is, and share an appreciation and respect for the trails we have." The hope is that the more people who understand the effort and strategies that go into trail building and maintenance, the more people who will use our trails gently and considerately.

Reaching Out to Our Community

NREL's education programs promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) using clean energy technologies to capture student interest. Students in grades K–3 can join us every Monday at 1:30 p.m. on Microsoft Teams for a favorite story and a STEM activity. If you would like to volunteer and join as a "guest reader," please contact Meghan Pearson.

Metro Denver Green Homes Virtual Tour

NREL has supported the annual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour since its inception 26 years ago. This year, NREL is co-sponsoring the virtual tour, which features sustainable homes that save energy, water, and money for their owners and make the air cleaner for all of us. The Green Homes Tour offers an opportunity to learn what makes those homes "green" and inspiration for homeowners to make some changes in their own homes. Whether you are looking for a new home or ways to improve your current castle, this is an opportunity to tour online a variety of homes benefiting from a range of smart strategies and see efficient remodeling options and effective solar designs. Take your time exploring new homes, updated homes, and innovative gardens and learn practical ways to make your own improvements.

Visit New Energy Colorado for more information.