Posted Online: April 04, 2012, 8:31 pm

New energy-saving BHC building is 'teaching tool'

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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Rose Campbell, Black Hawk College, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Instruction/ITS, stands in front of the school's new windmill during a tour of the new sustainable technology building Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at the Moline campus.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Black Hawk College engineering professor Dr. Adebayo Badmos talks about the work that will go on in the new school's new sustainable technology building during a tour of the building Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at the Moline campus.
Black Hawk College's new Sustainable Technologies Building still may be rough around the edges, but there are clear signs of what is to come.

Its wind turbine recently became operational, and construction on the $3.7 million building -- begun in late 2011 -- is expected to be finished in May.

The structure is designed to be a showcase and laboratory for energy-saving or environmentally-friendly construction techniques and power sources. Rather than merely hosting classrooms, the building itself is a teaching tool, letting students observe and learn about the technologies.

BHC's building will join others at area colleges and universities that embrace green or alternative energy technologies. Western Illinois University's Riverfront Campus in Moline draws heavily on many of the same power sources and technologies. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges also has unveiled an extensive solar power project at its downtown Davenport location.

Rose Campbell, Black Hawk's executive vice president and vice president for instruction/ITS, said what traditionally have been considered alternative technologies now are becoming more mainstream.

"Renewable energy is here to stay," she said.

Abigail Holmes, 19, of Orion, a member of the student environmental group Clean Sphere, toured the building Wednesday. She noted that, even before students entered, many could see the structure's technologies are becoming more common.

"This is how things are going to be" she said.

The building will be the home of Black Hawk's associate's degree in materials science technology and three new certificates designed to cover materials used in manufacturing, according to Michael Rivera, dean of instruction and student learning. Those materials include metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, electronic materials, biomaterials and nanotechnology.

The sustainable energy certificate and other engineering technology programs also will be housed in the structure. New programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics also are expected to be placed there, Mr. Rivera said.

Among the building's energy-saving techniques is "solar harvesting." Using sensors, the building can measure how much sunlight labs and classrooms are getting and alter the artificial lighting accordingly.

While classes officially start this fall, the building will be used earlier for some instruction, Mr. Rivera said. BHC also will be making sure the laboratories are ready for the fall.

Professional and continuing education programs, as well as those for homeowners and others interested in sustainable technology, also are planned.

Black Hawk did not seek LEED certifications for the project. Such certification is expensive and could have eliminated some of the educational opportunities for the students. Instead, Black Hawk formed a partnership with MidAmerican Energy and an engineering firm to create the structure's design.

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


On the Internet: www.bhc.edu/sustainable-technologies-building/

What's inside:

Black Hawk College's $3.7 million, 13,000-square-foot Sustainable Technologies Building includes:

-- Two high-tech, 40-seat classrooms;

-- A 24-seat classroom;

-- A materials science lab

-- A sustainable technologies lab

-- An instructional wind turbine that supplements the building's energy supply

-- A geothermal field to heat and cool the building

-- Solar thermal heating to supplement the hot water heater

-- An environmentally-friendly roof.