Green Per Square Foot

Case Study: NRG Energy August 27th, 2014

At the forefront of wholesale power generation, NRG Energy’s environmentally conscious philosophy can be seen in every aspect of its operations, from expanding into renewable energy, to reducing existing CO2 emissions, to creating a more sustainable workplace. With green-minded employees and many unique sustainability incentives, NRG’s extraordinary achievement in the HGOC was no surprise.

The office was originally constructed with sustainability in mind and is a LEED Gold certified building. NRG has an open-office layout where all employees, even the Regional President, believe it or not, have their desks on the main floor. Because there are no individual offices, cooling the space is energy efficient and this particular design allows sunlight for natural lighting.

Waste & Engagement

NRG regularly conducts waste audits to track progress and look for ways to improve recycling. During the latest audit, employees discovered that there is a 40% food contamination tolerance on recyclables.  Before, employees would not recycle paper cups with coffee remnants or plastic bowls with left over salad dressing, when, in actuality, that level of contamination is acceptable. With this new knowledge and some additional office education, NRG hopes to increase its already 75% diversion rate to 95%. The auditors believe this is a realistic goal for the coming year.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.53.50 AM

Waste Efforts:

  • Single Stream Recycling
  • Limited Bottled Water
  • Employee EcoCups and Water Dispenser


NRG strongly stands behind the use of electric vehicles and hopes to continue EV advancement through its subsidiary, eVgo, which delivers electric charging stations. Naturally, NRG provides several employee transportation incentives. During our interview, Laura Scott, the environmental manager, tells us she, in fact, takes advantage of the company’s electric vehicle incentive by buying a Nissan Leaf. NRG gave her $2,000, and leases a charging station at work and home. For Laura, selecting an EV was a no brainer.

Transportation Efforts:Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.54.02 AM

  • 40% bus fare coverage with 400+ employees use the bus system
  • The office building has showers for sweaty bicyclers

Started the EVs for Trees program to raise funds to plant and maintain trees in Texas

NRG communications director David Knox says, “It is not only the right thing to do but it’s also the economic thing to do. It might have a little bit of an upfront cost and some transitional pains, but what’s best for the business and what’s best for the environment often overlap.” Clearly, NRG is an innovative company always working to lessen its impact on the environment. NRG’s efforts around the office space have earned it the 3rd place highest tenant score for the 2011 Houston Green Office Challenge.

Posted by in Sustainability Education