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NREL sets aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goal, supports DOE's TEAM initiative
By pledging to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is leading the way for the Department in achieving GHG reductions across the DOE complex.
The Department's Transformational Energy Action Management (TEAM) Initiative puts DOE on an aggressive footing toward meeting and exceeding President George W. Bush's executive order to reduce energy use across the federal government. In exceeding the TEAM GHG goal, NREL has pledged to reduce its total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent from FY2005 to FY2009 as part of the Laboratory's participation in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Leaders Program.
“Our goal is one of the most aggressive in the national Climate Leaders Program and in the DOE complex,” said Bob Westby, manager of NREL's Federal Energy Management Program and Sustainable NREL Lead.
To help achieve its new goal, NREL will install two major on-site renewable energy projects: photovoltaics on a five acre site will provide approximately 7 percent of the Laboratory's electric needs and a biomass combustion plant fueled by forest thinnings and other regional wood wastes will offset the need for about 75 percent of its South Table Mountain campus natural gas use.
Both projects are notable for their use of private financing and contracting mechanisms. The Renewable Fuels Heating Plant will use an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). Under an ESPC a private sector energy services company (ESCO) will finance, install and operate the plant and be reimbursed out of the savings over the term of the contract. The photovoltaics project will use a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Under a PPA, the private sector developer owns and operates the project. DOE/NREL agree to purchase the electric output of the project over the term of the project at price equal to or less than would have been paid to the local utility.
Building energy efficient and sustainable new buildings also contributed to meeting the goal. In April, the Laboratory's Science & Technology Facility became the first federal laboratory building to be certified at the Platinum level, the highest in the Green Buildings Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building program.
The Laboratory purchases renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset all of its indirect emissions from electricity use as well as the remainder of its overall “environmental footprint.” This includes the balance of the natural gas use, employee commuting, national and international air travel, fleet use, etc. This practice helped the Laboratory achieve “carbon neutrality” beginning in FY2006.
In FY2005, NREL was the first national laboratory or federal agency to join the Climate Leaders Program and was one of seven original participants to set and meet goals“I am fully convinced that our mission is both enabled and enhanced by our leadership in sustainability,” NREL Director Dan Arvizu said.“ The employees of NREL are committed to incorporating sustainable principles in our work, and we encourage application of these same principles by our stakeholders. Through our actions we can establish a new benchmark for what is possible."
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