What's old is new when it comes to reusing materials for campus construction projects.
“Materials that give up their lives on an old project can be revived to serve a new purpose,” said university architect John Treston.
From carpet to concrete, he said, many products the university uses can be sent back to the manufacturer, disassembled, and made into products for new construction projects. And old devices and furniture are sent to the Surplus Center to be sold cheaply or recycled responsibly.
Hospitality Hall, Greenspun Hall and the Science and Engineering Building are all certified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which means that they are sustainable, efficient and offer healthy working conditions. These buildings provide clean air, access to natural light, and avoid the use of materials with harmful chemicals.
The Medical Education Building, currently under construction, has already registered for LEED certification and will use solar panels, overhangs and shading systems to save resources and even generate its own energy while providing a healthy and calming environment for medical students and residents.
A long-term goal of Planning & Construction is to ensure that the new UNLV buildings go beyond “net zero” (only use as much energy as they produce from renewable energies). “We want our future campus buildings not only to be energy efficient – we want them to generate their own energy and feed it back into the grid,” says Treston.
Solar panels are installed on 14 buildings on campuses Maryland and Shadow Lane, and will also be added to the new medical education building. As part of a grant from NV Energy, the university began installing the panels in 2013.
These panels have a generation capacity of 1.4 megawatts (MW). As a reference, this could supply 134 single-family homes with electricity for a whole year. The electricity these panels produce is used by the building they are in, saving about $ 130,000 a year on the university's electricity bill.
Each solar panel has photocells that absorb solar energy. The resulting current flows to an inverter box and is converted from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) for use in our buildings.
A facility management technician remotely monitors the solar panel system and works with the electrical team to fix most issues.
While NV Energy no longer offers subsidies for solar panels, facility management is looking for alternative financing options to install additional modules on other campus buildings.