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NETL Selected To Receive Grant To Advance Net-Zero Carbon Building Goals
Building sign that reads "Achieving a zero carbon future."

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has been selected to receive a new grant to advance the laboratory’s commitment to Executive Order (E.O.) 14057’s net-zero carbon emissions buildings goals and put the laboratory one step closer to becoming the first U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility to operate with 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by the end of fiscal year 2026.

A $100,000 first phase grant was awarded by DOE to its Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) and NETL to begin development of a net-zero building retrofit project at NETL’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania site.

The project involves incorporating energy efficiency upgrades, including a potential 260-kw solar array and battery energy storage element that will showcase a net-zero and electric vehicle charging model for future campus buildings.

The grant is part of $104 million worth of grants announced for energy conservation and clean energy projects at 31 federal facilities. The funding from DOE’s Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies (AFFECT) program represents the first of three disbursements from the historic $250 million in funding for the program made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

AFFECT, established in 1992, helps agencies cut energy consumption — and save taxpayers money — through building electrification, geothermal heat pumps, on-site solar generation, and battery energy storage among other initiatives.

The grant will allow NETL to hire an architect/engineer to design the project and investigate additional energy conservation measures identified during a recent energy and water audit. Expected outcomes include the identification and analysis of energy conservation measures such as building upgrades including heat pump systems, LED lighting, electric vehicle charging facilities, and a photovoltaic solar array — all steps that support NETL and DOE's goal of a net-zero carbon emissions buildings portfolio by FY 2045, including a 50% emissions reduction by FY 2032 from FY 2008 levels.

NETL will focus on improvements to building 901 (B-901) on its Pittsburgh campus.

According to DOE, the 31 programs selected for funding under the Assisting Federal Facilities with Energy Conservation Technologies program will, in the first year of operation:

  • Save more than $29 million in energy and water costs.
  • Remove the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the air as taking 23,042 gasoline-powered vehicles off the roads.
  • Reduce energy usage by the equivalent of 29,662 homes’ annual electricity use. 

In DOE’s announcement issued on January 17, 2024, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said, “The federal government is the nation’s largest consumer of energy, and conserving as much power as possible in our buildings and vehicle fleets benefits taxpayers and bolsters our national security. Thanks to the historic investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the projects we’re announcing today will help secure our energy independence while we fight climate change and create a healthier environment for all Americans.”

NETL Acting Director Sean Plasynski, Ph.D., said, “This is an important step because it will generate a modeled example of energy and emission savings and resiliency component along with supporting our pursuit of future opportunities to move our facilities closer to the goal of using 100% carbon-free electricity.”

The 31 selected projects align with President Biden’s December 2021 E.O. 14057 that calls for a 65% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions from federal operations by 2030, 100% zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, and a net-zero building portfolio by 2045.

NETL drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant, and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.