In 2008, UNT signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The primary objective of the ACUPCC is to encourage higher academic institutions to curb their use of energy and reduce their carbon footprint. UNT has made profound advancements to uphold its commitment, but has only begun its efforts to reach carbon neutrality.
As part of the university’s climate action plan to become a carbon neutral campus, UNT sought to incorporate renewable energy technology on to the Eagle Point Campus. Specifically, UNT proposed to purchase and install three community-scale wind turbines at Eagle Point. Unlike the giant turbines generally found at wind farms, community-scale turbines are considerably smaller and ideal for municipalities, schools, neighborhoods, and universities.
Designed for low wind conditions, the proposed 100kW wind turbines are perfectly suited for North Texas Class II wind speeds that average approximately 12 mph. Replacing unsustainable energy sources with clean wind collection will reduce UNT’s carbon emissions, as well as energy costs. Ultimately, the turbines will help UNT meet its goal of becoming a carbon neutral institution by producing clean, renewable electricity for Eagle Point.
In June 2010, UNT’s Office of Sustainability was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to conduct a comprehensive, feasibility study on the proposed wind turbines. Completed in October 2010, the feasibility study explored and determined potential effects of the wind turbines. The study included fish and wildlife assessments, avian studies, noise analyses, air transportation impacts, engineering reports, and statistical estimates. It also included an extensive summary of the educational value of the turbines for current and future academic, research, and outreach programs at UNT. On August 24, 2010, SECO awarded UNT the full $2,000,000 grant to fund the turbine project contingent upon its final review of the feasibility study. On November 11, 2010, the UNT System Board of Regents approved the project.
The construction of wind turbines at UNT will be an invaluable asset to the university and surrounding communities. Not only will UNT be further recognized as a committed leader in sustainability, but the offset carbon emissions will be a collective benefit for the entire Denton and North Texas region. Both the UNT and Denton communities will continue to grow and it is imperative that this growth be innovative and responsible. Sustainable initiatives, such as the use of renewable energy technologies, ensure that future generations of the UNT and Denton communities are equipped with the necessary tools to continue economic expansion while simultaneously protecting the environment and human health.