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NRG Energy Sets Ambitious Sustainability Goals, Breaks Ground on Grid-Resilient New Headquarters

Artist's rendering of NRG's new Princeton, NJ, headquarters, set to open in 2016. | Image credit: NRG Energy

NRG Energy, Inc. has announced ambitious sustainability goals as part of its continued corporate growth strategy, in conjunction with the recent groundbreaking ceremony of its new “ultra-green,” grid-resilient corporate headquarters in Princeton, NJ, expected to open in 2016. 

The second-largest conventional power generation company in the U.S., NRG has achieved significant reductions in CO2 emissions in recent years, but remains a major emitter of CO2. The core of the company’s new sustainability goals is to:

  • Reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 below a 2014 baseline;
  • Leverage and grow its core generation capabilities in a sustainable, lower-carbon manner;
  • Substantially grow its business and shareholder value during this transformation into the nation’s leading provider of reliable, clean, sustainable energy.

“Having already reduced our CO2 emissions by 40% since 2005, we see a clear path to further dramatic long-term reduction as we vigorously pursue our multi-faceted, long-term sustainable growth strategy,” said David Crane, NRG’s CEO. “As the U.S. transitions to a renewables-driven, increasingly distributed, grid-resilient energy system, we expect to be a leader both in clean energy and in converting the CO2emissions of our conventional generation from a liability to a profitable by-product.”

NRG says it estimates that its new carbon-reduction goals will avoid approximately 3 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. This is equivalent to avoiding:

  • The deforestation of 18,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest (roughly the land mass of Vermont and New Hampshire combined);
  • All of New York City’s CO2 emissions, at 2005 levels, for 65 years; or
  • All emissions from fuel and electricity from seven million homes, every year between now and 2050

To accomplish its objectives, NRG intends to continue its leadership role in the development, ownership and operations of renewable generation, cost-effective carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), energy storage and low-carbon distributed energy resources. New natural gas generation will also play a role in supporting renewable integration while ensuring reliability and fuel resource diversity. A key principle of its 2030 goals is NRG’s commitment to achieving these reductions while significantly growing the business.

“As the largest competitive generator in the country, we have the responsibility to continue reducing our carbon footprint in the medium and long term through innovation and ingenuity,” said Mauricio Gutierrez, NRG’s COO. “Our portfolio allows us to pursue everything from fuel conversions and carbon capture and sequestration to renewables and distributed technologies. We have already started to demonstrate our lower-carbon strategies with our asset revitalization program and with NRG Carbon 360, our carbon-capture business that includes our Petra Nova project at W A Parish, southwest of Houston. With the construction of our new headquarters, we will showcase the distributed energy solutions available to businesses committed to sustainability across America.”

Distributed energy resources will play an increasingly important role in NRG’s growth. These include distributed solar, efficient co-generation and electric vehicle networks, along with smart systems to manage them all intelligently and efficiently. Through this ongoing renewal and repowering of its generation fleet, NRG is committed to the continued delivery of reliable, efficient power in an increasingly sustainable and profitable manner. 

New Headquarters

NRG says its green, co-gen- and solar-powered new headquarters will showcase the ability of businesses to foster sustainability in their facilities, while reducing their dependence on grid power.

Having outgrown its current location, NRG is seizing the opportunity to design, develop and inhabit a new facility that incorporates the cutting-edge resource technologies that characterize the company’s vision and growth strategy. The three-floor, 130,000 square foot headquarters integrates a host of renewable energy technologies and efficiency measures, and will showcase one of the most trailblazing resource-efficient, grid-resilient designs achievable by corporate America today.

NRG says the new headquarters will set the bar for clean energy innovation in corporate facility design. It was designed in collaboration with Boston Properties, which shares NRG’s goal to bring a new level of integrated sustainability to the suburban built environment and will be solely occupied by NRG pursuant to a 15-year lease.

The location will incorporate, among other technologies:

  • Two on-site solar fields, with roughly 765 kW of capacity;
  • High-efficiency LED lighting combined with daylight harvesting to reduce indoor lighting needs and energy use by roughly one-third;
  • 12,000 gallons of rainwater harvesting capacity to reduce city water use by 80%;
  • Over 30 electric vehicle charging stations with infrastructure for EV-to-grid (eV2g) “back-feed” capability;
  • Off-grid capabilities and significant additional energy efficiency provided through dual-fuel generators and combined heat and power (CHP) systems for heating and cooling;
  • Grid power, to the extent it is used, will be 100% renewable energy through one of NRG’s green retail subsidiaries.

These features will dramatically reduce electricity, water and fuel use relative to a similar-sized corporate office. The 765 kW solar array is expected to produce some 980 MWh of clean electricity per year, displacing approximately 588 tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to the energy related emissions of 50 houses.

In October, MGM Resorts completed the installation of what it’s calling the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center, in partnership with NRG — which financed, built, and owns and operates the array. Covering 20 acres on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s 1.7 million square feet of convention space, the over 21,000 solar panels will provide 6.4 megawatts of clean energy to the complex. MGM says the energy generated from the rooftop array is enough to power 1,000 American homes while displacing about 6,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Through a power purchase agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay will buy the energy generated by the solar array, which MGM says will provide approximately 20 percent of the resort’s electricity needs.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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