A building at UTC's advanced vehicle test facility will become one of the Tennessee Valley's first structures to produce more electricity than it takes from the grid.
The university has garnered a $100,000 state grant for installing an innovative solar panel and geothermal heating and air-conditioning system in a building at the test track off Amnicola Highway.
"It will generate more electricity than the building uses," said state Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau on Wednesday.
The structure will be one of the first so-called "energy-plus" buildings in the valley, according to TDEC. The excess power produced at the building will be used to charge electric vehicles or may be sold to TVA, the state agency said.
The building was selected for the project since its size is similar to a small commercial or manufacturing operation. TDEC said the project can serve as a demonstration of how a conventional commercial building can be converted into an energy-plus building.
Martineau, speaking at the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association's environmental summit here, said the grant is one of four valued at $780,000 to fund energy efficiency projects at Tennessee educational institutions.
The grant money is part of a $26.4 million Clear Air Act settlement with TVA in 2011, he said. Tennessee will receive the money over five years to fund clean air programs in the state, according to TDEC.
Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement that increasing energy efficiency in colleges and universities not only impacts taxpayer dollars but teaches students to become better environmental stewards.
Also receiving grants are:
• Northeast State Community College - $180,000 to replace an outdated and inefficient HVAC system at its Johnson City Downtown Centre.
• Tennessee Technological University - $250,000 for a retrofit of its existing coal-fired steam plant.
• University of Memphis - $250,000 to build two units that produce electricity. One unit will be solar powered while the other will use methane generated from decomposing organic matter.