Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012, 9:37 pm

Sustainable Technologies Building at BHC should be finished by May

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By Anthony Watt,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
The new Sustainable Technologies building under construction at Black Hawk College in Moline.
Black Hawk College's newest building is expected to be finished in May and in use soon after.

The Sustainable Technologies Building, construction on which started in late 2011, is a $3.7 million structure planned to be a showcase and laboratory for a number of energy-saving or environmentally friendly construction techniques and power sources. It is seen as a tool for students to observe and learn about their use.

Classes officially begin in the fall semester, but the building also will be used this summer for some instruction as well making sure the laboratories are ready for the fall, said Michael Rivera, dean of instruction and student learning.

Professional and continuing education programs for professionals and sessions for homeowners and others interested in sustainable technology are also planned.

The Sustainable Technologies Building will become the home of the associate's degree in materials science technology and three new certificates designed to cover different materials used in manufacturing, Mr. Rivera said. These materials include metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, electronic materials, biomaterials and nanotechnology.

The sustainable energy certificate and other engineering technology programs will also be in the building, with new programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics expected to be placed there, he said.

The 13,000-square-foot, one-story building will include two high-tech, 40-seat classrooms; a 24-seat classroom; a materials science lab; a sustainable technologies lab; an instructional wind turbine; a geothermal field to heat and cool the building; solar thermal heating to supplement the hot water heater; and a green roof.

Another of the energy-saving techniques being used in the building is called "solar harvesting." Through sensors, the building can measure how much sunlight the labs and classrooms are getting and alter the artificial lighting in those rooms accordingly.

Black Hawk did not seek LEED certifications for the project. They are expensive, and if the college went that route, there would not be the same educational opportunities for the students. Instead, Black Hawk formed a partnership with MidAmerican Energy and an engineering firm to create the design.

The project is being funded with $1 million from the Illinois Jobs Now Bill, and the remainder from a bond sale. The college will recoup $23,000 through MidAmerican Energy's Commercial New Construction program.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the project or follow its progress can do so online at: