CVTC’s Energy Education Center Earns Honors

Facility first in area to be LEED Gold Certified

Friday, April 22, 2016
Photo of CVTC’s Energy Education Center Earns Honors

CVTC Dean of Energy and Agriculture Adam Wehling accepts the 2016 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award from Katherine Mitchell, a program lead from Focus on Energy.

The new Energy Education Center (EEC) at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) has been recognized for its energy efficiency and green environmental features. Focus on Energy has selected the EEC as a 2016 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Winner, while the U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the EEC LEED Gold certification. The EEC is the first LEED Gold Certified building in the Eau Claire area.

The awards were announced at the EEC on Thursday, April 21 during CVTC’s Earth Day celebration.

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recognizes buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. There are four levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified.

“With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to USGBC’s vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman of USGBC. “As the newest member of the LEED family of green buildings, the Energy Education Center is an important addition to the growing strength of the green building movement.”

According to the USGBC website, there are only 121 LEED Gold Certified buildings in Wisconsin. The closest to Eau Claire is the Fairmont Minerals facility in Menomonie. There are two LEED Gold facilities in Hudson, one at River Falls and several in La Crosse.

Both the USGBC and Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program, recognized the commitment to energy efficient practices demonstrated by the EEC project. CVTC worked with the Focus on Energy Design Assistance Program in formulating plans for the EEC in 20015.

The EEC is primarily heated and cooled by a renewable geothermal system, but with wind and solar energy units also in use to help meet the building’s overall energy needs. Extensive use of windows make maximum use of natural light to supplement the high-efficiency LED lighting. Chilled beams in the high ceiling and in-floor heating produce a natural air circulation system. Selection of building materials were also made with green principles in mind. Even the carpet was produced from recycled fibers.

The building has increased insulation and window glazing systems to reduce the cooling load by lowering the solar heat gain.

“We’re trying to be efficient, with low environmental impact, and make common-sense decisions on the ways we approach things,” said Associate Dean of Energy and Agriculture Adam Wehling. “It’s representative of where the industries are going.”

The EEC houses CVTC’s Electrical Power Distribution; Lineworker Apprentice; Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology; Agriscience Technician; Farm Business; Landscape, Plant and Turf Management; and Truck Driving programs. The programs focus on energy technology in energy generation, energy distribution, and efficient utilization and conservation of energy.

Various electrical and mechanical systems are on display through a centralized mechanical room and open ceilings and numerous indoor and outdoor labs that will be utilized by programs.

“Not only are our programs housed in this building, the building is part of the programs and the programs are part of the building,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker.

Also at the award presentation, Focus on Energy recognized two private contractors, B&B Electric and C&M Home Builders for their energy efficiency efforts.

“It’s so encouraging to see so many participants in the programs,” said Maria Redmond, a member of the Public Service Commission, which oversees Focus on Energy. “Energy savings leads to economic activity in the state.”

Earth Day events at CVTC also included a tree planting in celebration of CVTC’s Tree Campus USA designation and tours of the EEC by local high school groups.