Brian Scott, Denton County Reporter
The University of North Texsa is getting national attention for its efforts to be more Earth-friendly.
The Princeton Review has named the University of North Texas among the “greenest colleges” in the US.
The Denton-based school made the cut for the third year in a row due to the many sustainability efforts underway on campus.
"It's been very nice and very refreshing to see this, said Francisco Guzman, Chair of UNT’s Sustainability Council. “It's a very proud thing for us who believe in this."
Among some of the many improvements made UNT has added 3 large wind turbines outside the new energy efficient Apogee stadium (1 of 4 LEED certified buildings on campus), expanded their recycling program to take in more than 600,000 plastic bottles annually, and converted almost half of the school’s energy use to renewable sources.
"We do have some of the highest sustainability rankings in the state and in the country,” said sustainability Assistant Director Lauren Helixon adding that the school also made the GreenMetric Ranking this year and has been recognized as high as 7th greenest in the country on different lists.
UNT’s green efforts are inspiring students and staff to go green.
Along with the hundreds of bikes traveling campus, UNT staff photographer Brad Holt stands out cruising around in his new Tesla electric car.
"They're totally electric and this one can go about 300 miles on a charge,” said Holt.
Holt was inspired to make the $100,000 investment in the Tesla due in large part to the environmental benefits of the car and the long-term savings of not having to buy gas for his daily commute to and from Dallas. He says the fact that UNT recently added six electric car charging stations to campus made the purchasing decision easier for him.
"It's so comforting to know that I can come and be at UNT and be able to charge up and I can go anywhere from here,” he said.
UNT’s office of sustainability was created in 2008 to help kick the University’s green-energy push into high gear. They say the school’s eco-friendly ways go back to the 1930s when they first began water research in North Texas.
The college is also getting students involved with their 1-year-old “Zero Energy Lab” located in Discovery Park – the only one of its kind in Texas.
The small building uses solar, wind and geothermal energy sources to keep power coursing through the center and even has a V-shaped roof to collect rain water for drinking.
"That's very exciting for them and it's a very unique opportunity, and not many other Universities will provide that,” said Engineering Department Chair and Zero-Lab Director Young Tao.
Campus sustainability leaders say their programs are really only the beginning.
"There are several student orgs that are dedicated to sustainability initiatives on campus and making this campus more green,” said Nicole Cocco, outreach coordinator at UNT. "Even if our students don't have electric cars the fact that they see this infrastructure here it makes them really rethink the world around them."