By Jeff Ray

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The University of North Texas in Denton is known as the Mean Green, and there is a lot more to that moniker than you might realize. The school’s new football stadium is really green, and not just on the field’s turf. “This is the first stadium in the country to receive a LEED platinum certification,” said Chris Mundell with HKS Architects.

That’s right — the stadium in Denton is just a year old, and the first of its kind. Getting a platinum energy rating requires a long list of sustainability.

Around the stadium, builders have made thousands of spaces — for rain, not cars. Small gaps between brick stones on the ground help collect water outside of the complex. “The pavers are for all the parking spaces and drives around here, instead of just pure concrete,” Mundell said. “It allows the water to trickle back into the ground and not run out to the sewer directly.” That water then goes to ponds in a park, not a parking lot.

Speaking of water, the stadium’s restrooms use low-flow water, which has cut usage in half without spending more money. “Some of this stuff, there was no extra cost for doing that,” Mundell explained. “You are saving the operation cost in the end, in a 50-year-old building.”

Of course, this is a football stadium, and the facility has to be able to provide a good view of the field. So, there are still a lot of windows letting in the sun’s heat in areas that are trying to stay cooled. “We had to do a balance between the amount of glass you use, but not over-glass for controlling the sun,” Mundell said. The designers used computer simulations to site and shade the windows, and decide the best locations for more energy-efficient (and expensive) ones.

Those traveling past the stadium along Interstate-35 can even seen the true icons of green — wind turbines, not too big and not too small. “They are called community-scale wind turbines,” Mundell explained. “They are about 120 feet to the hub of the turbine with 30-foot blades, so they are not as big as the West Texas ones that are about 400 feet tall.”

The wind turbines are what pushed the stadium beyond the gold certification. They account for roughly a third of the stadium’s electric footprint. “It helps offset energy use and push us over into the final platinum standard,” Mundell said. The highest standard of green for the Mean Green.

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