Asu Campus Would Generate Electricity


The plans for ASU’s visionary “millennium” campus in Payson call for the innovative “green” campus to actually produce more electricity than it consumes.

The forested campus will include all the latest energy-saving and energy-generating innovations, including copper-sheathed roofs with solar panels and circulating salt solutions to store energy, light tubes to bring daylight to dark corners, tubes circulating fluids deep underground to equalize temperatures, composing, gray water systems and even the first major recycling systems in Payson.

As a result, the dorms, administrative offices and classrooms will not only consume much less energy in both winter and summer than normal buildings, but the solar arrays and other systems will sell power back to the electrical grid, said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, who revealed details of the “green” systems this week for the first time.

“The full concept of the campus is not only to preach to kids what they ought to be doing in terms of energy sustainability, but to show them in a lifestyle how to do it,” said Evans.

The developers of the 150-acre campus that will start with 500 to 750 students in the fall of 2012 and grow eventually to accommodate 6,000 students in perhaps a decade have already drawn up a list of some 20 cutting-edge, energy conserving technologies.

“It will be a core part of the long-term curricula — teaching them by doing that sustainability is something that doesn’t start when you leave your home and go to the office — but it’s something that you can literally do as a lifestyle,” said Evans.

Moreover, the program backers hope that the energy efficient design of the campus and dorms will fit right into a major movement to develop new ways to retool the timber industry to protect forest communities by removing the small trees that now choke millions of forested acres in Rim Country.

“I think by putting together the core disciplines that you have on that list, you increase by a full logarithm the probability that there will be a solution to the biomass problem in the forest,” said Evans.

“The answer is not simple. If all we had to do was burn this wood in fireplaces, we could have done that already. But we’re right here in the middle of the forest, so it’s not a theoretical issue for us.”

Campus backers hope to break ground on the new campus within about a year, barring some unforeseen problem with either buying the 300 acres from the Forest Service or ensuring the Legislature will fund enrollment on the proposed campus, which would be built with donations and bonds issued by a town-created Community Facilities District.

Backers envision a campus set amongst junipers and ponderosa pines on the hilly land behind the current location of the Payson Ranger District offices.

Campus backers anticipate multi-story dorms and buildings to leave as many big trees as possible, creating a campus set among the trees but oriented toward the sun to minimize the need for heating and cooling.

No fossil-fueled vehicles would be used on campus beyond the parking garages.

Among the “green” technologies included in the preliminary designs:

Solar systems

All the campus buildings would include solar arrays, in addition to a small solar farm. Those solar systems would include all the latest innovations, not only for generating electricity but for storing that energy for the night time and cloudy days and to feed back into the grid.

Those include at least two methods for trapping the heat — liquid electrolyte energy sinks using soluble acid lead energy storage and an osmosis cooling cycle, that uses a salt solution to store.


The campus will recycle as much as possible, perhaps providing a spur to broader recycling in Payson. Plans call for composing, biomass segregation and a sophisticated recycling system throughout the campus and dorms.

Energy capture

The building materials would incorporate the latest tricks for reducing energy costs. Many of the buildings will be roofed with a paint-like layer of copper, with systems designed to turn the heat into energy.

The building materials will also likely use a technology called heat foil passive energy capture, which actively generates energy from sunlight hitting the buildings instead of just trying to insulate the interior.

Using daylight

The buildings will all maximize the use of skylights, plus diodes — bundles of fiber-optic strands that can carry daylight into dark corners, instead of relying on light bulbs.


The campus would take advantage of the town’s existing expertise in low-water plants and landscaping, with integrated landscape design, use of gray water systems and even elements of groundwater recharge.


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