Solar projects underway at Tech

New Mexico Tech is in the process of installing solar paneled covered parking spaces in the Macey Center parking lot. 

One of New Mexico Tech’s largest parking lots - the one most used by the public - is getting a makeover. Work is currently underway to install solar paneled covered parking spaces in the Macey Center parking lot. When the job is completed, 116 spaces will be provided shade from the sun and more importantly, the generation of electricity for the campus.

Alex Garcia, Director of Capital Projects, said New Mexico Tech has been looking at ways to reduce its energy consumption.

“It’s an idea that’s been floating around for some time,” Garcia said. “New Mexico Tech wants to be good stewards of the environment and do our part to lower our carbon footprint.”

He said one of the things that the state is pushing is what is called an energy savings performance contract. Energy savings performance contracts allow federal agencies to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.

“For example, companies will come out and do an analysis of your campus.” He said. “Then they come back with project ideas that will save you on utility costs.”

The idea is that those savings will go to pay back the cost of those projects.

“That’s what we’re doing on this solar project,” he said. “Over time it will pay for itself, as well as the benefit of being good for the environment. And It’s going to provide a really nice benefit for people who park here.”

Garcia said the system is designed to send electricity straight back into the university’s system.

“We won’t be net-zeroing,” he said. “It will augment just a portion of our usage.”

“The structures should be up probably by the middle of August or so, and then they need to complete the electrical work,” Garcia said. “I’d say by the end of the year it’ll be up and generating electricity.”

The general contractor for the project is Ameresco, a company whose primary focus is the design and integration of solar systems that power flow monitoring, lighting, security, and a range of other applications.

“The company that’s actually erecting the structure is called ParknShade,” Garcia said.

New Mexico Tech has additional solar jobs in its sights.

“We’re also doing a solar structure at the EMRTC (Energetic Materials Research Testing Center) parking lot,” he said. “And then the parking lot at Facilities Management.”

The projects are costing about $2.4 million.

“The New Mexico Tech Institutional Revenue Bond is self-financing it,” Garcia said. “The bond will be paid back by the utility savings.”

Previous projects under Garcia’s purview included the new Data Center near facilities management, as well as Jones Hall, which formerly housed the chemistry department.

It is currently undergoing extensive remodeling.

“Jones Hall is getting a new roof, as well as an updated HVAC system and electrical system,” he said. “The building is being slightly being reconfigured before Chemical Engineering and Material Engineering can move in.”

The work at Jones should be completed in March, 2021, he said. “Brown Hall is scheduled to be remodeled beginning 2022.”