“ZØE” Zero Energy Laboratory Building
By Angela Jarquin
Dallas EEI 2018 Summer Intern
The fact remains that fossils fuels are non-renewable and will inevitably diminish over time. Consequently, scientists including Dr. Weihuan Zhao are researching alternative energy sources that are both sustainable and cost-effective. A remarkable Zero Energy Research Laboratory has been placed in Discovery Park at UNT in order to enhance the research experience for those interested in renewable energy, energy conservation, environmental assessment, and sustainability design.
ZØE, the Research laboratory, is equipped with various sustainable features ranging from bamboo floorings to a rain-harvesting water system. All of these characteristics are biodegradable or a way to attain a net-zero energy consumption of energy, which is the ultimate goal. There is a connection between the objective of ZØE and the EEI program. ZØE desires net-zero energy consumption of energy. Similarly, Dallas EEI has a partnership with the Sanitation Department and their slogan is “Dallas Zero Waste” which expresses the need to recycle and reduce in order to decrease the amount of waste we produce. In order to achieve this end goal, the Research laboratory has a rainwater collection tank that can hold up to 3,000 gallons. The ZØE building has a unique V-shaped roof to maximize the collection of rainwater. The water then goes through a complex filter and into the collection tank for later use. The building uses wind turbines and solar panels in order to generate on-site renewable energy. Due to noise complaints from neighbors, the Research laboratory uses vertical wind turbines in order to avoid the loud noises that horizontal wind turbines produce. On the roof, there are 25 solar panels used to produce electricity. Dr. Zhao gave us an exciting opportunity to climb a ladder onto the second floor and see the solar panels on the roof. Although, I was terribly scared, this was definitely the best part of the tour.
All in all, this tour of the ZØE building was both informative and surprising. It’s astonishing that slight changes in our lifestyle can have a great effect on how much energy we consume. Due to all the information I received on the tour, I am now more conscious of the amount of energy I utilize.