Abstract: The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is a large research/academic institution that encompasses 150 buildings making up 17 million square feet of indoor space and serving 70,000 students, faculty, and staff. This requires an enormous amount of energy, and the main UT campus generates 100% of its power through a 137 MW combined heat and power (CHP) district energy system, which provides the University’s electricity, chilled water, and heating steam. This highly efficient system is an amazing resource for campus, but it is based on fossil fuels. In what ways can the University diversify its power generation through the use of renewables? Through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the creation of digital roof models (DRMs) and solar radiation modeling tools, this project simulated annual exposure to solar radiation of the roofspace on campus taking into account, slope, aspect, vegetation cover, roofspace utilization, and cultural significance. The study found photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal collectors present a viable opportunity to offset the current campus energy demands, but solar PV is still not economically viable without subsidies. Furthermore green-roofs also provide an interesting option to reducing cooling/heating loads. This analysis shows that cultural values play a large role in green development, how roofspace can provide identity, and challenges of renewable competing with traditional power sources based on economics alone.
GIS Day at State Capitol
On Wednesday November 20, we were able to showcase a collection of projects created by our members. Attended by GIS professionals, academics, and government officials, Austin Area GIS day was a great opportunity to gain exposure and create networking opportunities! Other sponsored booths included: SAM (Surveying and Mapping Inc.), ESRI, SWCA, City of Austin, SWIGGIS, and Austin Water among others. Some of these organizations have been invited to talk to the ASPRS student chapter about work opportunities in the spring semester. As our first official event since our club formed, it was extremely successful! Stay tuned for more events next semester!