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The Facility is the Teaching Tool

NWTC is using the Great Lakes Energy Education Center® facility as a teaching tool to create an energy showpiece.

The Energy Education programs at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) had been scattered throughout the campus and within spaces of other programs.  NWTC wanted to create a unique space that the energy education faculty and students could call home, developing the primary driver behind the new 30,000 square foot Great Lakes Energy Education Center® (GLEE).  The goals for this new building project was to create a presence on the campus that promoted their energy education programs and communicated stewardship to the community.

To accomplish these goals, Performa partnered with NWTC to fashion the first net-zero capable building on campus.  Every detail of the building needed to be designed for maximum energy efficiency while maintaining the same high-performance standards the rest of the campus enjoys.  Outside of our internal subject matter experts, Performa used this as an opportunity to engage NWTC energy professors and instructors as subject matter experts for the project.  Collaboration between Performa and NWTC faculty developed a model for this facility that would meet our energy use (EUI) goal of less than 40KBTU/sq.ft/year for base building performance.  A typical building could have a EUI in excess of 100KBTU/sq.ft/year.  The next phase of this project, to be completed in 2018, will add solar power generation to the building to enable the building to be fully net-zero in energy consumption.

Strategies employed in this building required the collaboration of all disciplines of architecture and engineering.  Simulation models were developed prior to any building design to determine optimal building orientation, envelope design, and glazing.  Architecture and structural disciplines collaborated on thermal breaking to ensure optimal insulating strategies and minimal thermal transfer through the envelope.  The mechanical systems incorporated geothermal heating and cooling loops in conjunction with variable refrigerant flow systems.  Further, the electrical and architectural disciplines worked closely to optimize daylighting in the spaces to reduce the use of artificial light.

All this needed to be done within a very tight budget to meet institution and taxpayer expectations for building cost.  The project was bid at $180 per square foot, significantly below the average market price for net-zero capable projects.

The building serves as a teaching tool for the faculty and students, displaying color-coded piping systems and high visibility of metering and building automation controls. The facility incorporates a geothermal heating/cooling in conjunction with variable refrigerant flow systems.  The piping is color-coded in the facility to visually instruct the occupants.  Green piping serves the geothermal heating/cooling loops.  White piping contains refrigerant for the VRF systems.  Red piping contains hot water to serve hydronic heating systems.

The GLEE facility houses programs in power generation, transmission, and management. The facility is powered by renewable energy and is a showcase of energy-efficient design, monitoring, and management technologies. The Great Lakes Energy Education Center is designed to be zero net energy capable, meaning that its annual energy consumption will be roughly equal to the renewable energy generated on-site once all systems are installed.

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