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University of Utah plans net-zero renovation for architecture building

SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — The single-pane windows and concrete walls of the University of Utah's architecture and planning building are holdovers from a time when energy costs were afterthoughts, at best.

But with a little ingenuity, the university plans to turn the 40-year-old structure into a model of sustainability — a building with net-zero energy consumption and zero carbon emissions each year.

"Buildings like this were built when energy was cheap," said Brenda Scheer, dean of the U.'s College of Architecture and Planning. "But what better place for this kind of bold experiment?"

Among other things, officials plan to cut the building's energy use by 80 percent, improve water conservation and recycling efforts and install monitors and dashboards that give students feedback on their energy consumption.

The building also will receive its own energy source before being taken off the grid.

The college's architecture students will take charge of the task, which would be the largest net-zero energy renovation in the U.S., Scheer said.

They hope to build a case study for others around the nation to duplicate.

"We don't have any money," said Jen Lindley, a first-year graduate student. "So if we can do it, anybody can."

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