Clean, Green Power at UTD

November 21, 2023

An overhead view of a parking garage, showing the solar panels on its roof.

The solar panels on the top level of Parking Structure 1 provide both shade and power.

Anyone taking a walk through the University of Texas at Dallas is bound to notice the results of the many energy conservation and clean energy initiatives which have been added to our campus over the years.

It’s Everywhere

Some of those results are obvious, such at the solar panels atop Parking Structure 1 that make it a zero-net energy structure. Some look dramatic, most notably the shading structures and special windows that help our newest laboratories save energy on lighting and climate control. Others are more subtle, and include the reflective roofs on many of our oldest facilities that reduce the heat island effect on campus. And that’s just UTD’s buildings.

Students, staff, faculty and visitors who ride to UT Dallas in electric vehicles have several places on campus to recharge them. University residents who prefer to live automobile-free and take advantage of the local Zipcar vehicle sharing club are able to select electric vehicles from that fleet. A variety of services from shower passes to bike repair stations make riding a bicycle —to UTD and within UTD— a practical form of transportation.

Always Trying Something New

A group of men gather under a tree to examine a variety of electric gardening tools laid out across a table.

The Landscaping & Grounds crew prepares to test some electric tools on campus.

As a “living, learning laboratory” the University of Texas at Dallas is continuously experimenting with energy conservation and clean energy. That experimentation can appear in everyday campus operations as often as it happens in the lab. Many of the UTD’s green experiments are carried out by Facilities Management.

Since the summer of 2022, the electric robot mower “Rewom” has been detaching itself from its charging station outside the Administration building and quietly trimming the grass in large arcs along the gentle hills of that section of campus. This mower-bot has now been joined by another one which uses a different cutting pattern. Both are being evaluated as a possible alternative to louder, gasoline-powered riding mowers.

Many hand-held tools are also getting tested by the University’s Landscaping & Grounds team, to see whether devices originally marketed to homeowners can handle the acres of greenery at UT Dallas. Electric versions of every tool from hedge trimmers to chainsaws are being evaluated. Of particular interest are equipment chargers that can recharge batteries over the space of a work break.

A Whole New Level

The logo of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Solar District Cup, over which appear the words “Design. Model. Compete.”.

Clean energy research is expected to reach a whole new level this school year. In October, the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory selected UTD as one of three dedicated use cases for their 2023–2024 Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition. Multidisciplinary student teams from across the nation will use our campus to design a solar-plus-storage system. It’s an opportunity for students to learn about renewable energy and come up with innovative applications, and this time around, a great deal of that innovative energy will be applied to UT Dallas.

The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to engage the UT Dallas community as a catalyst and champion for environmental stewardship and social responsibility while fostering a culture of sustainability evident in all aspects of the campus experience.

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