Last weekend in Denton, Texas, the University of North Texas (UNT) broke ground on a high-tech first in the United State: a Zero Energy Research Laboratory. The lab’s renewable energy will start with solar power and evolve to include other alternative energy sources like wind to expand the scope of their research. When compared to Fortune 500 companies, universities and colleges continue to advance more rapidly toward Zero Energy Ecosystems.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are at least seven of the Top 20 universities/colleges that use 100% of Green Power Resources (GPR) for their annual electricity usage:
- Drexel University,
- University of California at Santa Cruz,
- American University,
- The Catholic University of America,
- Auraria Higher Education Center,
- Western Washington University and
- Southern Oregon University.
However, there are only four of the Top 20 renewable energy companies within the Fortune 500 that use 100% GPR for their annual electricity usage:
- Kohl’s Department Stores,
- Whole Foods,
- Harris Bank and
- Advanced Micro Devices (Austin site).
The leader of the UNT Zero Energy project has been Dr. Yong Tao, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering and PACCAR Professor of Engineering at UNT. Tao is also known for the Future House USA project, another one of his innovative projects which was a 3,200 square-foot zero-net energy house that was built in Beijing and displayed during the 2008 Olympic Games. If Fortune 500 companies were to pursue more partnerships with Universities and Colleges who are leading the way for maximizing green energy use, we could see a more rapid acceleration of corporate conversion to renewable energy. UNT’s Zero Energy Research Lab would be one viable partner: it is targeted to open in 2012.
What other companies are you aware of that are forging ahead toward renewable energy? Your comments are welcome.
© 2011 by Ed Valdez. All rights reserved.