Waubonsee curricula, facilities go green

By on July 2, 2010

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College is expanding its “green” program offerings with the addition of both a photovoltaic training laboratory and a geothermal heating/cooling system on its Sugar Grove Campus. Both systems are being funded through grants.

A $120,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation will help get the college’s two new photovoltaic career certificates off the ground. Photovoltaic systems generate electricity from sunlight and are becoming more popular in commercial and residential buildings.

The money will be used to purchase a ground-mounted photovoltaic array, which is a series of panels used to capture solar power. The array should be installed on the Sugar Grove Campus sometime this summer. Along with the array, the college will also outfit a student lab with 12 technician stations and a mock-up of a roof-mounted array system.

In addition to preparing area residents for jobs in this emerging field, the photovoltaic system has the added benefit of supplying supplemental electricity to a few of the college’s buildings.

Also making both the college’s curricula and facilities greener is the recently installed geothermal system. Geothermal systems take advantage of the constant, moderate temperatures found underground to heat and cool buildings using a system of buried water pipes called a loop. Waubonsee’s system consists of 800 feet of pipe that is buried near Akerlow Hall on the north side of the Sugar Grove Campus, along with a heat pump and water furnace located in the college’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) lab.

Funded by the Perkins Grant for Career and Technical Education, the system will be incorporated into the college’s existing Residential Comfort Systems course and serve as the focus of a Geothermal Systems course in the new Renewable Energy Technologies discipline. The system is also capable of providing supplemental heating and cooling to the HVAC lab.