News Release: New NREL Web Site Helps Campuses Go Green

Dec. 23, 2009 | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Cornell University have launched a Web site to help campus-based institutions develop clean energy and carbon-reduction strategies.

The Web site, Climate Neutral Research Campuses, is available at

Research campuses consume more energy per square foot than most facilities.  Laboratories and data centers run at all hours, using power-hungry equipment and cooling and ventilation systems to ensure high-quality scientific results and meet health and safety regulations.  But they also have greater opportunities to reduce energy consumption, implement renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Sustainable NREL Program institutionalizes sustainability at NREL's Campus of the Future and makes NREL a global model for sustainability, including some of the world's most energy-efficient laboratories and office buildings.

"There is opportunity on every campus in the country to set an example and work toward becoming carbon neutral," said Nancy Carlisle, director of NREL's Integrated Applications Office and a licensed architect.

Drawing on NREL's experience, as well as the best practices at other research campuses, the Web site provides campuses with a process to establish a baseline carbon inventory and develop and implement their own climate action plans.

The core of the Web site is a resource center that describes 24 specific climate action options.  For each action, the Web site provides a leading example of the related technology, and reference links. It also offers guidance on selecting the right technology options for an individual campus.

The approach offers sustainability officers, lab managers and campus engineers ways to evaluate their facilities and systems by energy sector and set specific targets for improvements.

"It starts with taking an integrated 'whole campus' perspective rather than focusing on any particular building system," said NREL senior engineer Otto Van Geet.

"Changing people's behavior – like turning off the lights – always is the place to start," Van Geet said. "We look into energy efficient upgrades in new and existing buildings, then transportation alternatives. Finally we work into energy sources and renewable energy."

The Web site was developed with Randy Lacey, Cornell's University Engineer, who worked for three months with sustainability experts at NREL. Cornell recently released its climate action plan to make its Ithaca, N.Y. campus climate-neutral by the year 2050. A climate-neutral campus has no net climate impact resulting from carbon or other greenhouse gases.

"Both Cornell and NREL have taken aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions and are two of the leading campuses in climate action," Lacey said.

NREL developed this Web site with support from Labs21—a joint venture of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

NREL is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.