UNT is distinguishing itself as a leader in sustainable energy research as it adopts wind power and energy-efficient products. Its commitment to green practices and becoming carbon-neutral is giving the university and its researchers a competitive advantage, including resources like a 1,200-square-foot zero-energy laboratory house and partnerships in government and industry.
Green is taking on a whole new meaning at UNT as the university builds on its commitment to sustainable energy research and adheres to green building practices in new cutting-edge ways. And UNT continues to enhance its strong reputation as a leader in green research through new partnerships in government and industry.
UNT plans to use the American House, a 3,200-square-foot net-zero energy house built in Beijing and displayed during the 2008 Olympics, as a research facility for American and Chinese faculty and students.
UNT is leading the way and fast becoming a hub for collaborations in net-zero energy research, studying sustainable energy technologies that allow building systems to have a net-zero consumption of energy.
In fall 2011, the university began moving forward with research and promotion of green building technologies through a new partnership with China. UNT has partnered with Future House Real Estate Co. Ltd., an industrial research institution in Beijing, to expand the university's role as a global leader in net-zero energy.
The new agreement also extends UNT's involvement with the American House, a 3,200-square-foot net-zero energy house that was built in Beijing and displayed during the 2008 Olympic Games. Yong Tao, chair of UNT's Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, under the leadership of Vish Prasad, vice president for research and economic development, oversaw the design and construction of the American House. UNT plans to use the house as a research facility for American and Chinese faculty and students, Tao says.
The Chinese agreement along with two new Discovery Park research facilities will help support UNT's Renewable Energy and Conservation research cluster, one of 15 interdisciplinary research groups addressing complex scientific, technological, environmental and societal problems.
A new state-of-the-art 12,000-square-foot Zero Energy Research Laboratory at Discovery Park, UNT's 300-acre research campus, will be powered by solar energy and other alternative energy sources such as wind to allow a wide range of zero-energy building research.
A new greenhouse complex under construction at Discovery Park also will support groundbreaking work in the Renewable Energy and Conservation and Renewable Bioproducts research clusters. The complex, expected to be completed in 2012, will initially be built with two greenhouses and over time expand up to 10 greenhouses
Three wind turbines will feed the electrical grid that powers UNT's new football stadium thanks to a $2 million grant from the State Energy Conservation Office. The installation and operation of the wind turbines in early 2012 made UNT's Apogee Stadium the first collegiate stadium designed to incorporate onsite renewable energy.
"The turbines will reduce UNT's carbon emissions as well as energy costs," says Raynard Kearbey, UNT System associate vice chancellor for system facilities. "Our reduction of carbon emissions through the reduced use of fossil fuels will benefit the entire North Texas region for generations to come."
UNT also is leading the charge in incorporating green practices into the design of its facilities.
The U.S. Green Building Council has recognized Apogee Stadium and UNT's Life Sciences Complex with varying levels of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, an internationally recognized green building certification system developed in 2000.
UNT's Apogee Stadium earned LEED Platinum certification in October 2011, making it the first newly constructed collegiate football stadium in the nation to achieve the highest level of LEED certification.
"UNT is a leader in environmental research and sustainability, and the fact that we have the first LEED Platinum football stadium is an example of our commitment and our plans for the future," Rawlins says.
The stadium is uniquely built to maximize energy efficiency. 150-foot wind turbines built next to the stadium will pump about half a million kilowatt hours a year into the UNT power grid, saving the university $40,000 to $50,000 a year. In addition, the design features non-toxic materials, solar cells on top of the ticket booth and landscaping with native plants that require less water. The stadium also uses non-processed water for the chilling plant and windows that maximize natural lighting.