NRG sets lofty sustainability goals at groundbreaking of new green HQ

Brett Johnson//November 21, 2014

NRG sets lofty sustainability goals at groundbreaking of new green HQ

Brett Johnson//November 21, 2014

The fruits of Economic Development Authority’s tax incentives for NRG Energy came to bear as the energy giant held a groundbreaking for its new 130,000-square-foot headquarters at Carnegie Center in Princeton on Thursday. It was an event the company also used to unveil its lofty sustainability plans.Construction is just getting underway on the new three-story facility  for which a 15-year lease was formalized last fall  and it’s expected to be finished and occupied by 2016. It will give NRG, the nation’s largest independent power producer, a new corporate base after its other Princeton location reached capacity.

Just as construction begins, so do the company’s self-imposed green energy goals.

By 2030, NRG seeks to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by 50 percent, using 2014 as a baseline. It then hopes to reduce emissions by 90 percent by 2050.

And the company is starting with its own new headquarters in its pursuance of those targets.

The facility’s grid power, to the extent it is used, will be 100 percent renewable energy. But it’s designed to rely on off-the-grid solar arrays that are expected to generate 765 kW. Even the building’s electric vehicle chargers have the infrastructure to feed back into the grid, a first for the Garden State.

Other interesting features include a “living wall” that utilizes plants to purify the facility’s air and a rainwater capture system on the roof that can harvest 12,000 gallons of water to reduce city water use.

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The state-of-the-art facility will be built by Boston Properties, which owns the 560-acre Carnegie Center. It will be the real estate firm’s first new construction at the office park since Carnegie 701 was completed in 2009, which brought in Princeton University as a tenant.

“We’re proud to be involved in the cutting edge of sustainable development,” Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties, said at the groundbreaking event on Thursday.

With a tract of withered cornfields behind them, NRG’s leaders celebrated by putting the first shovels into the soil on the construction site for the new facility, which lies just on the other side of Route 1 from their full-to-capacity Carnegie Center base.

Princeton has been NRG’s headquarters since its 2004 move (upon receiving a $12.2 million incentive package from the EDA) from Minneapolis. Around 500 of the company’s 900 New Jersey employees are stationed at Carnegie Center.

NRG then established dual headquarters in Texas and New Jersey after merging with the Houston-based GenOn, a wholesale electricity company, in 2012. Given that 1,500 NRG employees are located in that Texas base, the company was considering consolidating its corporate headquarters there.

According to NRG CEO David Crane, Pennsylvania was also part of the discussion for the new facility.

But the state Economic Development Authority stepped in last year, just as it did in the initial move, and awarded the company $37.5 million in tax incentives to remain in the Garden State.

EDA CEO Michele Brown was present for Thursday’s groundbreaking. She applauded NRG’s decision to expand in New Jersey, stating that it will result in the retention of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars for the state’s economy.

“We’re (equally) pleased with this outcome, in terms of having this building and being able to symbolize what we’re doing as a company,” Crane added in an interview. “The other options just didn’t have that virtue built into them.”


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