Winning the Future in our Research Laboratories and Facilities
When President Obama called for 80% of our energy to come from clean sources by 2035, he challenged Americans to awaken their creativity, innovation and expertise to help us meet this charge. Across the country, public and private institutions are leading the way in developing the research and technologies that will help us win the future.
Right here in Gaithersburg, MD, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is doing pioneering work to boast state of the art greener, safer buildings and homes. I was pleased to take part in the ground breaking for three exciting new facilities on the NIST campus.
On the outside, the NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility will resemble a typical suburban home occupied by a Washington area family, but no one will actually live there (NIST would probably get plenty of volunteers to live there in a moment!). Researchers will simulate the daily energy usage of a family of four and prove that the typical American home can still use very little energy and produce as much as it consumes. With the installation of state-of the art energy saving windows, solar thermal panels, and energy efficient appliances, the net-zero test facility will bring us closer to the next generation of homes that can produce as much energy from renewable resources as it consumes over the course of a year. It will also help create clean energy jobs and the industries of the future.
NIST's 2,000 new solar energy panels will catch the sun's rays and with the flip of a switch, feed up to 600kW of electricity directly into the electrical grid. This renewable energy produced by the sun will fuel the groundbreaking work happening on the NIST campus, and exemplifies our commitment to innovative and responsible government. Instead of wasting energy and emitting carbon pollution, the NIST facility in Gaithersburg is acting as a good neighbor to local families and communities by protecting public health and producing energy with greenhouse gas emission-free energy.
The third new facility, the National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory, will give researchers a place to develop the solutions and technologies that will ensure we have the safest buildings in the world. Stemming from the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center, NIST scientists are working to ensure that our buildings can withstand severe fire conditions. The Laboratory will provide a unique capability for testing full-scale structural elements and systems under realistic fire conditions to protect our homes and buildings from disaster. The facility will also serve as a reminder of how our nation responds in the face of hardship: that we are a country that remembers the tragedies from our past, and always strives to build a safer future.
Turning the soil and breaking ground on these three important projects at NIST shows once again that we are on the cusp of delivering a new energy future for America. In research labs across the country, the future is being won each day. It is in these centers where landmark discoveries are made and where we see American innovation at its finest. I want to thank Representative Van Hollen and Representative Edwards for supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which invests in facilities like the ones at NIST. We are already leading the way to becoming clean energy leaders, and I look forward to continuing our work to build a healthy and prosperous future for America.
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
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