Dignitaries and guests were privy to the official ground breaking Wednesday morning for the newest facility on campus at Red Deer College, an alternative energy lab.
Brian Lacey, senior vice president, energy and resources for Clark Builders said while the construction starts today, people won’t see much of the innovative technologies like the roof top solar arrays.
“The visionary part of the project is the learning lab. [It] will be a space so that people can play with alternative energies to figure out how the arrays work in different conditions whether it be through the seasons or cloud cover,” said Lacey.
Lacey said they really had to think outside the box to find a solution that fit the budget given for the alternative energy lab.
“The learning lab is approximately 4,000 square feet and it’ll be set up such that it’s somewhat modular so you can tailor make the inside to your current demand,” said Lacey.
The lab will benefit approximately 1,000 students per year at Red Deer College and will provide opportunities for teaching, demonstrating and researching alternative energy opportunities.
Completion of the lab is anticipated for April 2018 at a total cost of $10 million. 50% of the funding came from the federal government through the Sustainability Initiative Fund, while RDC utilized its reserves for the other 50%.
Joel Ward, RDC President and CEO, said the annual cost savings will near the $1 million mark.
“When [the project] was presented to me I thought that makes huge sense for us because after the fourth year its paid for itself and every year after that it’s a million dollars that we don’t have to spend on heat and power that we can spend on new initiatives for programs and for students,” said Ward.
Ward said the addition to RDC will benefit not only students but also business and industry in central Alberta.
“For students it provides them opportunities to learn about installation and trouble-shooting for some of the advanced environmental technologies. For business and industry it gives them a chance to say look if we were to take our business and convert our current power system what would that mean in terms of savings and what would the payback time be,” said Ward.
Alternative energies are becoming more of a reality, said Ward. “The world is changing and I think we are all starting to realize that now.”
Rather than waiting on the project, Ward said the decision was made to move forward with it and be the first in Western Canada to take on alternative energy in a huge way.
“When you talk about what we’re trying to become, a Polytechnic University, this is a real example of the type of institution. It’s about applied learning, it’s about connection with business and industry and it’s about advanced training.”
Ward added that the alternative energy lab will serve as a great recruiting tool for RDC as students go from learning about technologies in class, to being able to touch and test them first hand.
“This is evidence of what we can do and what we need to do and what we are willing to do to ensure that we can more this institution forward and grow the economy in central Alberta nd provide opportunities for people who don’t have them right now.”
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