NRDC’s HQ Is Projected to Achieve Net-Positive Electricity

It is estimated that roughly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are caused by the built environment.[1] Eliminating these emissions is crucial to a safer climate future. This November our New York City (NYC) headquarters brought us one step closer to this ideal by generating more renewable energy than what is needed for the office's needs. This office now uses 100 percent solar energy to power all electric energy consumption (any excess energy not used is fed back into the electrical grid) and will be considered net-positive electricity this time next year . Achieving this goal is significant in helping to eliminate our Scope 2 GHG emissions (indirect emissions), as outlined in Vision 1 of the NRDC Sustainable Operations Plan. It also supports NYC’s Green New Deal, which sets the goal of reaching 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

We worked towards net-positive electricity through two meaningful interventions. First, our seven-floor headquarters is designed to use one-third of the energy of a conventional office thanks to abundant natural light, thermal-paned windows, tight air seal, and highly efficient lighting. Second, in partnership with OnForce Solar, a locally-based solar energy company, we created an approximately 890,000 kWh/year remote net metering solar array in the Bronx borough. Over the solar array’s 25-year lifetime it will prevent 17,325 metric tons of GHG emissions from entering our atmosphere.

The solar array was created in the Bronx because of its ongoing issues with asthma and air pollution. We hope that the visibility of our solar array will prompt conversations around the harmful effects of fossil fuels and the opportunity to adopt renewable energy. It also supports the seed of change that was planted in 2018 when CleanChoice Energy opened enrollment for the Altus Bronx Community Solar Farm.

Together with OnForce Solar we would like to recognize the State of New York’s NY-Sun program for making our remote net metering solar array more accessible. The program provides solar energy incentives for both homes and businesses. In addition to the NY-Sun program, there are renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives in all U.S. states. You can visit the DSIRE database to see what opportunities are available for your home.

About the Authors

Maria McCain

Senior Sustainability Coordinator, Facilities
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