The University of Texas at El Paso
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Energy Center

   The Energy Center is located on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and is part of the Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM). The Energy Center's work includes energy efficiency and renewable energy research and energy education outreach projects serving not only the local community but throughout the States of Texas and New Mexico

The Energy Center's own building (above) is a former El Paso home which has been remodeled to demonstrate the use of passive solar design and energy efficiency technologies. The existing 14" thick rock walls were covered on the exterior with 3" of expanded polystyrene insulation and a plaster finish. Additional insulation was installed in the building's attic.

   On the south east wall a section of the rock wall was painted black and then glass was installed just a few inches away from the rock, effectively transforming this section into a thermal storage wall which absorbs the sun's energy during the winter day and conducts that heat into the building. The existing porch on the building's south west side was converted into a sunspace. The existing rock wall was not insulated here since it is now inside the building and serves as thermal storage. The concrete slab of the former patio was finished with terra cotta tile for additional mass. Also demonstrated are a passive solar water heating system and a small photovoltaic system used for exterior lighting.