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National Renewable Energy Laboratory

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Powering a Renewable Future

for National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewal Energy Laboratory is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research and development. Located in Golden, Colorado, NREL is at the forefront of today’s energy challenges, focusing on breakthroughs in fundamental science to new clean technologies, to integrated energy systems that power our lives. NREL researchers are transforming the way the nation and the world use energy. Vermilion has worked on a number of initiatives for NREL, including an animated website, “What is the Smart Grid?,” a comprehensive strategic plan for a more unified web experience, and illustrations showing the logistics chain for wind turbines at the shoreline.

What is the SmartGrid?

Our current grid was conceived over 100 years ago when electricity needs were much simpler. Produced for NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy, is a gateway to information on federal initiatives that support the development of technologies, policies, and projects transforming the electric power industry. The animated series defines the Smart Grid, and takes viewers through a tour of the Smart Home, Renewable Energy, and how consumers can save money on their utility bills.

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Wind Energy

The Communications and Public Affairs Office of NREL engaged Vermilion to design an animated widget showing the various components of the wind industry, from blade manufacturers to grid production. Rolling over the various components produces a pop-up window explaining how it’s involved with the industry and lists manufacturers associated with that component. The widget is used by various members of the industry in order to increase awareness of wind energy manufacturers in the U.S. Technical illustration by Matthew Luckwitz.


In the summer of 2014, NREL commissioned Vermilion to provide recommendations and requirements for the redesign. The first phase included user research, interviews with 20 key stakeholders, and leading cross-organizational working group sessions to define and prioritize business goals, target audiences, user tasks, scenarios, and requirements. Final deliverables included a comprehensive summary and set of recommendations and a responsive blueprint to support the information architecture and design of the NREL website.

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