Discovery Park at UNT

University of North Texas began construction on a 1.5 million, 1200 square foot research facility called Discovery Park. The facility will be used for students and faculty who are involved in sustainable building and sustainable energy to test the technologies. Included are solar panels, geothermal and wind energy connected to a smart grid system. “It’s a facility that tests technology for buildings that will have net-zero consumption of energy,” said Costas Tsatsoulis, dean of UNT’s College of Engineering.

The discovery park building will be made up of removable walls and floors enabling researchers to test the effectiveness of new sustainable materials. 1/3 of the research facility will be a furnished living area and the other 2/3 will be a laboratory. The facility will be on a smart grid system and solar panels. The electricity generated will help power the lab, any extra energy will go back into the electrical grid.

A private company, Solar Logic, 5 students and 2 faculty members will use solar simulator testing to help develop a lightweight affordable way to produce solar power. Weather simulation will be used to test multiple projects simultaneously, testing products in different situations and locations. One of the goals is to produce smaller solar panels that that will stand up to the elements and make it more viable for businesses and home owners.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and the general contractor Nouveau Construction, hope to have the project completed in early 2012. Funds from the higher education’s assistance from the state, operating funds and donations by Acme Brick, Axium Solar, Schneider Electric, Nuconsteel and Benchmark Precision Buildings are helping to fund the $1.5 million facility.

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