Have you ever wondered what initiatives have set Denton apart and on a path towards sustainable living?
In the 1990’s the University of North Texas’s Center for Public Service formed partnerships with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Housing and the Department of Urban Development (HUD) to organized a series of conferences. One in particular was called, “An Aging Planet, An Aging Population, and A Sustainable Future” and was held at UNT and even in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In the early 2000’s, a committee on green building issues was created by three faculty members. The committee invited Dan Fette, a green builder, and Jane Provo, CEO of Denton Affordable Housing to join the committee. As a result of their teamwork, Dan and Jane designed the award-winning Nevada Court “green” housing community in Denton.
Eight homes were built. The monthly energy bill of each house was guaranteed not to exceed $60. Water bills were reduced thanks to water harvesting for all outdoor watering. This showed how lowering energy and water costs were practical ways to reduce poverty among low income families.
Fast forward ten years later, some faculty pushed UNT administration to go green and secure LEED certification on all new construction. Click here to watch a watch a summary of this history. Unfortunately, UNT has a long way to go to become a national or an international leader in sustainability education and research.
However, the City of Denton is moving toward a more sustainable future. By 2020, the City of Denton will move to have 70% of its electricity derived from renewable sources.
Zero Energy Housing
Dan Fette, a green builder in Denton Texas (https://www.facebook.com/danfettebuildersinc/), has teamed up with the Siti & Jido Park Foundation to create a home for five disabled individuals and one caregiver near the University of North Texas. Each person has their own bedroom with a shared bathroom. They intend to have the home certified under the US Department of Energy’s “Zero Energy Ready Home Program”.
What is the process to become designated as Zero Energy? First, use every practical means to reduce the energy demand for the house, then meet that reduced demand through renewable sources—in this case, it is using sunshine making electricity by means of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof.
How have they accomplished the goal?
- Air-tight construction
- Extra insulation in walls and ceilings
- A/C ducting running inside air conditioned space
- high performance windows shaded with deep roof overhangs
- radiant barrier roof decking,
- Energy Star rated appliances
- LED lighting
In addition, a two-duct heat pump water heaters will draw heat from the air, and augment the air conditioning system in summer months. Because of the various energy efficiency strategies, the 3200 square foot house will readily suffice with a 3 ton heat pump.
An 8 kilowatt array of solar panels will produce most of the electricity needed for the reduced load. The facility will remain grid-tied for the rest. The city of Denton offers an incentive for installing solar panels—Denton Municipal Electric (DME) helps you pay for them. The foundation is in line to receive a rebate of 75 cents / watt to defray the cost of the solar panels.
Denton Businesses Going Green
The Retina Institute of Texas in Denton installed a 10.14 KW solar system on their roof. The DME Green Sense Solar Rebate program make the pay back much faster than in many other cities in Texas. As one physician at the Retina Institute said, “Denton is more supportive of such efforts than Arlington and Dallas”. Some 75% of the Institute’s electricity needs are covered by the solar panels. In two years over $13,000 has been saved. SWG Energy Inc. installed the system. Driving around Denton you can see numerous businesses with solar panels. Over time each system will reduce Denton’s reliance on non-renewable sources of energy.
It would be good for our universities and major corporations in Denton to join the drive toward a 100% renewable energy city. Two reasons why some businesses move to Denton is the low cost of electricity and the high proportional of renewable energy according to officials at DME.
We hope this trend continues.