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Sustainability Grant Adds Research Opportunities and Solar Energy at UHD's Newest Building

University of Houston-Downtown teams up with Green Mountain Energy Sun Club for research-grade photosynthesis equipment and new solar panels to power two science teaching labs.

SOURCE: Green Mountain Energy

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HOUSTON, November 17, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Science, technology, engineering, and math—disciplines collectively known as STEM- power some of the largest industries in Houston. To complement the University of Houston-Downtown’s role in shaping the next generation of scientists, today the UHD’s College of Sciences & Technology (CST) Building  and the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club hosted a virtual event to showcase  the new photosynthesis equipment for faculty-mentored research as well as the new 54-panel solar array. The Sun Club donated $250,000 for the new equipment and the 6.7 kilowatt off-grid solar system that will power two environmental science teaching labs in the building—one of which has been named the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club Environmental Science Lab.

“The generous donation from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club to provide photosynthesis equipment and renewable solar energy to power the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club Environmental Labs showcases our respective organizations’ commitment to advancing sustainable technologies to Houston citizens,” said Dr. Akif Uzman, dean of the College of Sciences & Technology. “I hope this will be the beginning of a long collaboration between Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, the Center for Urban Agriculture & Sustainability, and UHD.”

Students now have access to the photosynthesis equipment to make physiological measurements on plants in courses such as Plant Biology Laboratory, General Ecology Laboratory, Environmental Lab and Field Studies. The equipment will advance students’ research experiences significantly and increase the likelihood to get their project results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The photosynthesis equipment is now primarily in use for the General Ecology Laboratory focusing on native prairie grasses. The faculty also plans to integrate the solar panels as an educational tool to contribute to students’ academic experience in renewable energy sources.

“We are excited to support UHD’s newest academic building by providing tools to inspire students and jumpstart their journey to becoming future leaders in sustainability,” said Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager for Green Mountain Energy. “Sun Club is helping organizations that create meaningful, lasting differences in our communities and training the next generation about sustainability is a great investment.”

Green Mountain Energy, the longest-serving renewable energy retailer, founded the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club in 2002 to help a growing number of nonprofits implement sustainability projects. Sun Club has been connected to the award-winning College of Sciences & Technology  Building since it opened its doors to students in 2019. Green Mountain Energy Sun Club’s contributions to UHD complement $10 million in grants supporting projects focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and resource and environmental conservation. The success of Sun Club is greatly dependent on the generous support of our Green Mountain Energy, its employees and its customers in Texas and the Northeast.

“The Green Mountain partnership is a great way to showcase the creativity of combining renewable energy in an urban environment,” said Dr. Lisa Morano, UHD distinguished professor and director of the Center for Urban Agriculture & Sustainability. “Such a system will serve as an educational tool for UHD students and it represents the future direction that universities should aspire to – we are in the business of building bright and sustainable futures.”

UHD’s partnership with Sun Club complements the many sustainable features of the CST Building and its role as a center for scientific discovery in Downtown Houston. According to the Greater Houston Partnership's most recent edition of Houston Facts, with more than 223,000 tech workers, Houston has the 12th largest tech sector in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of Houston’s high-tech workers are employed in industries other than computers and software.

About Green Mountain Energy Sun Club

The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing sustainable communities. As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Sun Club® invests in nonprofits and focuses on projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Since the program’s founding in 2002, the Sun Club has donated $10 million to more than 122 projects from nonprofit organizations across Texas and the Northeast. To learn more about the Sun Club or to apply for a Sun Club grant, visit gmesunclub.org.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Interim President Dr. Antonio D. Tillis. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 51,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.

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Media Contacts:

P. Mike Emery, emeryp@uhd.edu , 713-221-5806

Diana Maddock, diana.maddock@greenmountain.com , 713-703-4989 

KEYWORDS: University of Houston-Downtown, university of houston-downtown science, houston, green mountain energy sun club, Green Mountain Energy, STEM careers

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