What’s old is new when it comes to repurposing materials for campus construction projects.
“Materials that give up their life for an old project can be revitalized to serve a new purpose,” university architect John Treston said.
From carpets to concrete, he said, many products the university uses can be sent back to the manufacturer, broken down, and made into products for new construction projects. And old equipment and furniture are sent to the Surplus Center to be sold at an affordable price or recycled responsibly.
Hospitality Hall, Greenspun Hall, and the Science and Engineering Building are all Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, meaning they are sustainable, efficient, and provide healthy working conditions. These buildings provide cleaner air, access to daylight, and avoid using materials with harmful chemicals in them.
The Medical Education Building now under construction has already registered for LEED certification and will incorporate solar panels, overhangs, and shading systems to save on resources and even create its own energy while providing a healthy and calming environment for medical students and residents.
A long-term goal for Planning & Construction is to ensure UNLV’s new buildings go beyond "net-zero" (only consume as much energy as they produce through renewable energy). “We want our future campus buildings to not only be energy efficient — we want them to create their own energy and send that back to the grid,” Treston says.
Solar panels are installed on top of 14 buildings on the Maryland and Shadow Lane campuses and will be added to the new Medical Education Building as well. The university started installing the panels in 2013 as part of a subsidy through NV Energy.
These panels have a generation capacity of 1.4 megawatts (MW). For reference, that could power 134 single-family homes for an entire year. The electricity generated from these panels is used by the building they are located on resulting in a cost-savings of about $130,000 annually on the university’s power bill.
Each solar panel has photocells that absorb energy from the sun. The resulting electricity travels to an inverter box and is converted from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) to be used in our buildings.
A facilities management technician monitors the solar panel system remotely and works with the electrical team to troubleshoot most problems.
While NV Energy is no longer offering subsidies for solar panels, facilities management is looking for alternate funding to install more panels on other campus buildings.