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Subject Index - Government Terms

508 compliance

As a leading, respected national laboratory, NREL must ensure that its publications and content are accessible to all people. Specifically, we must ensure that everything is “508 compliant.”

What It Means

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. For example, individuals using assistive technology (such as JAWS, a computer screen reader program) can read a document that is 508 compliant.

What It Involves

All graphs, graphics, animations, fact sheets, and so on must be accessible. Further, videos, animations, and audio files must be 508 compliant. These media types require text versions.

Working with a communications representative will ensure that your content goes through the proper process and is 508 compliant before publishing.

**Don’t Forget To Add Alt Text!**

A key part of ensuring 508 compliance involves adding alt text for every figure and photo in technical reports, fact sheets, articles, webpages, social media, and so on. Alt text provides a semantic meaning or description of the image. It can also be read by search engines. 

Keep It Simple

Imagine if, instead of reading a document, you had to listen to it being read to you. By keeping this in mind, you can write alt text that is clear and descriptive. To help, see the following examples of alt text—one for a photo and one for an illustration. For more complicated figures or graphs, try to provide a high-level overview of what is being shown (versus describing every detail).


Photo of an eagle flying out of a cage with sky above, the ground below, and wind turbines in the background.

Alt text: Eagle flying out of a cage with wind turbines in the background.


An illustration showing spar-buoy, barge, and tension-line floating offshore wind turbines in the ocean, with the wind turbines above the surface of the water and the foundations anchoring them to the seabed.

Alt text: Illustration of spar-buoy, barge, and tension-line floating offshore wind turbines in the ocean, with foundations anchoring them to the seabed.

For more information on accessibility and alt text, review NREL’s Communication Standards.

Alliance for Sustainable Energy, the Alliance

The Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, equally owned and governed by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle, is the manager and operator of NREL (effective Oct. 1, 2008).

The appropriate term on second and subsequent references is "Alliance" as opposed to the acronym "ASE." Because many companies and groups have ASE as their acronym, this usage will help distinguish the Alliance. Also, because it is used as a proper second reference and not a generic term, the Alliance will remain capitalized for that usage.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

After spelling out the full name on first reference, you may use "Recovery Act" in subsequent references instead of the acronym "ARRA." But when using "Recovery Act," do not identify it in parentheses after the full name like you would with the acronym.

Congress and congressional

Capitalize "U.S. Congress" and "Congress" when referring to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Lowercase "congressional" unless it is part of a proper name.

The U.S. Congress is reviewing congressional salaries. A full list is available in the Congressional Record.

cooperative research and development agreement

Use lowercase for "cooperative research and development agreement" because it's not a proper noun. On second reference, you can use the acronym "CRADA."


ENERGY STAR is always in capitals. Use ENERGY STAR® the first time it is used on a page; thereafter, use ENERGY STAR. The ® should be superscript, and there's no space between the ® and ENERGY STAR.


Use a capital letter with "federal" for corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names.

Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission

Use lowercase when the word is used to distinguish something from state, county, city, etc. entities.

federal government, federal court, federal judge

net zero

When used as a noun, “net zero” is two words. It is also two words when referencing the Net Zero Labs program. Hyphenate “net-zero” when it is used as a modifier.

NREL is eliminating its carbon footprint through the Net Zero Labs initiative.
We are close to achieving our emissions goal of net zero.
The goal is to achieve net-zero emissions.

NREL attribution statement

The NREL attribution statement, which recognizes NREL's affiliation with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, is required on all NREL publications. In addition, note that a period is used on the "sentence" version of the statement.

renewable energy certificate

Don't capitalize "renewable energy certificate." It's not a proper noun. Also, this is the term preferred over "renewable energy credit" or "green tags."

renewable portfolio standard

Only capitalize "renewable portfolio standard" when a state name precedes it.

Renewable energy certificates have been proposed under California Renewable Portfolio Standards.

Research Support Facility

Use "Research Support Facility" (RSF), regardless of which phase or wing is cited.

The Research Support Facility is designed to be a model for sustainable, high-performance building design.

Construction on the first phase of the Research Support Facility, which is 222,000 square feet, was completed in summer 2010.

state implementation plan

Capitalize "state implementation plan" only when a state or organization name precedes it.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection incorporated emission reduction strategies into its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency State Implementation Plan for air quality.

trademark symbols

Trademark notice symbols (® or ™) are to be used for the Alliance-owned trademarks listed below. Trademark notice symbols should be used on the first reference in body copy only. Preferred capitalization is as listed.

Do not use trademark notice symbols with third-party products or services.

Alliance-owned registered trademarks include:

  • ADVISOR®                                                                                                   
  • Alliance®                                                                                                                                                            
  • Alliance for Sustainable Energy®                                                                  
  • Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC® (logo/design mark)
  • BuildingSync®                                                                                                                                               
  • Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development® (logo/design mark)               
  • CREED®                                                                                                                                                            
  • HOMER®
  • JISEA Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis® (logo/design mark)
  • OpenEI®                                                                                                                                                           
  • OpenStudio®                                                                                                                                 
  • PVWatts®
  • REopt®
  • REopt Renewable Energy Integration and Optimization® (logo/design mark)
  • REopt Lite®
  • REopt Lite® (logo/design mark)

The Alliance also has authorization from the Department of Energy to assert trademark rights to each name and tagline listed below. Preferred capitalization is as listed. The common law TM trademark notice symbol ™ should be used instead of the ® trademark registration notice symbol.

  • BEopt™
  • Building Agent™
  • CatCost™
  • Clean Energy Cybersecurity Accelerator™ (CECA)
  • ComStock™
  • CORE™ (Continuously Optimized Reliable Energy)
  • dGen™
  • Distant Observer™
  • DRIVE™
  • Engage™
  • EsterCycle™
  • FASTSim™
  • foresee™
  • H2FillS™
  • HIVE™
  • iiESI™
  • iiESI International Institute for Energy Systems Integration™ (logo/design mark)
  • LaDa™
  • MADE3D™
  • MHKiT™
  • nSnare™
  • OCHRE™
  • Open-OA™
  • OpenPATH™
  • PolyID™
  • RdTools™
  • ReEDS™
  • ResStock™
  • SolarAPP™
  • SolarAPP+™
  • SolarPILOT™
  • SPA™ (Solar Position Algorithm)
  • SwitchGlaze™
  • System Advisor Model™ (SAM)
  • Technology Performance Exchange™
  • TEMPO™
  • TPEx™
  • URBANopt™
  • VSHOT™

Following is a list of expired and/or abandoned trademarks that no longer use ™ or ® notice symbols.

  • ADVISOR 2002
  • ENERGY-10
  • EVI-Equity
  • EVI-RoadTrip
  • IMBY
  • New Iglu™
  • SolTRACE
  • VIBE

Following is a list of commonly used government-owned trademarks that should use the trademark notice symbols, as indicated. This list is for reference and is not intended to be all-inclusive. There are many other government-owned trademarks not listed.

  • CECA™
  • Clean Energy Cybersecurity Accelerator™
  • EnergyPlus®
  • H2@SCALE™
  • H-MAT®
  • Home Energy Score™
  • HydroGEN Advancing Water Splitting Materials™
  • HyBlend
  • IDAES®
  • ORISE®
  • Powering the Blue Economy™
  • SEED Platform
  • Solar Decathlon®

U.S. Department of Energy

This is the preferred term for printed and outreach materials. When spelling it out, "U.S." should precede "Department of Energy" to distinguish it from other state and international departments. However, "U.S." should not be included with the acronym "DOE." Do not include "the" before "DOE."

On first reference, "Energy Department" may be used in communications to the press.

If the possessive is used with the term, the apostrophe should go after "U.S. Department of Energy" and with the "DOE" acronym as well. However, if you can write it in a way that avoids use of the possessive, that is preferred.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) priorities include combating the climate crisis, creating clean energy union jobs, and promoting energy justice.

work-for-others agreement

Use lowercase for "work-for-others agreement" because it's not a proper noun. The acronym "WFO" refers only to work for others; therefore, when using the acronym, "WFO agreement" is correct.