The nearly completed Mean Green football stadium has established its place along the Denton skyline and can now be seen from miles away. But the facility is missing three integral pieces that are expected to generate quite a stir come fall.
The State Energy Conservation Office awarded UNT a $2 million grant in August to construct three wind turbines next to the new stadium. Expected to be up and running by the end of the year, the turbines will eventually offset the energy consumption of the neighboring Mean Green Village, the facility surrounding the stadium, by 6 percent and eliminate nearly 323 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The turbines will stand in a line running parallel to Bonnie Brae Street, a spot viewable by commuters traveling on both Interstates 35E and 35W. They will stand 120 feet tall and will, from at least 130 feet away, emit as much noise as a normal conversation between two people.
Labeled as community-scale turbines, the 100-Kilowatt machines are smaller than their wind-farm cousins and suited to the area’s 12 mph average wind speed.
As sources of renewable energy, officials said the turbines will serve as a statement of UNT’s pursuit of carbon neutrality.
“It has become more than just part of the stadium,” said Rick Villarreal, UNT’s athletic director.
An October study by the Office of Sustainability determined the turbines will be used as part of UNT’s academic, research and outreach programs. The four-month-long study was funded by a $200,000 grant from SECO that allowed developers to determine the turbines’ impact on surrounding wildlife and local air traffic.
Approval of the final funds was contingent upon the turbines’ high visibility, which they hoped would increase awareness of renewable energy.
Already, UNT is planning to launch a web-based monitoring system that would allow viewers to track energy production and carbon reduction from projects like the turbines. Such initiatives will also be incorporated in course curriculum.
Developers said they consider the turbine project to be the foundation of many such renewable energy efforts at UNT. The 28,000-seat Mean Green stadium is awaiting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification. UNT President V. Lane Rawlins also signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment pact, making UNT the largest Texas university to do so. UNT will also be the only Texas university to utilize wind turbines on campus.
“It was a collaboration between UNT System, the athletics department, facilities, the Office of Sustainability and HKS Architects,” said Brandon Morton, the special projects coordinator with UNT’s Office of Sustainability.
HKS Architects, the designers of both the UNT stadium and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and their DesignGreen firm created the initial blueprints for the turbines. UNT is currently in the process of selecting a construction manager for the project. Organizers were hoping to have the turbines up in time for the stadium’s opening in September, though a final date has not been set.
By Drew Gaines / Senior Staff Writer,
21 April 2011
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