The completion of the Zero Energy Research Laboratory at the University of North Texas offers students and researchers the tools to study the next generation of sustainable and renewable energy technologies.
The living lab—the only one of its kind in Texas—is designed to test various technologies and systems in order to achieve a net-zero consumption of energy.
The structure has a number of advanced energy technologies integrated into its 1,200-sf space, including a geothermal heat pump, a radiant heated floor slab, solar panels, a building energy monitoring and control system, and a rainwater collection system, along with a residential-scale wind turbine and an electric vehicle charging station.
The doors, windows, roof, and supporting energy-efficient equipment are designed to be expanded and exchanged so researchers can analyze new building materials. Nandika D’Souza, PhD, a UNT professor of mechanical engineering, and her research team plan to use the facility to test their plant-based building materials. D’Souza is developing materials made from the fibers of the kenaf plant, a cousin to bamboo, with a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.