CTC to host ribbon cutting for energy-efficient “green” house

Central Texas College (CTC) will celebrate the completion of its Green Umbrella Project to construct an energy-efficient “home” with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 3. The student-centered project featured the design and construction of a high-efficiency, sustainable “green” house incorporating emerging renewable energy systems and building techniques. The ribbon cutting will take place on site between the Mayborn Planetarium and the campus human resources office.

Initiated by Mark Winans, chairperson of the CTC Electronics Department, the year-long Green Umbrella Project involved students from multiple departments, with support from community partners, designing and building a structure known as the “SAM” (Sustainable, Affordable, Modern) house. The collaborative project included students from the electronics program as well as building trades and business students. “What started out as an 800-square-foot project is now 1,043-square-foot structure fully loaded with energy-saving features,” noted Winans. “Everything from the electronics to the landscaping to the plumbing was designed for cost-saving, energy-efficiency. The goal was to expose students to how renewable energy goals impact the architecture, construction and landscaping phases. It is important for our students to explore these capabilities as they prepare to enter the working world.”

On the inside, the SAM is a two-bedroom house containing everything needed for a person to live in such as running water, living room, kitchen and dining area, a working bathroom facility and other amenities for a comfortable living space. Some of the energy-efficient features include Energy Star appliances, double-paned windows, high-efficiency HVAC systems, an energy-recovery ventilation system, a dual-flush/low-flow toilet and solar- thermal hot water system.

The facility also contains solar photo-voltaic cells to generate electricity, spray foam insulation throughout the structure, polished concrete flooring to reduce allergens and added durability as well as awnings on both the north and south sides for shade yet still allow sunlight for passive heat.

CTC students were involved in the project since the project began a year ago. Initially, drafting and design students worked with local architects to help with the design of the structure. And while most of the electrical wiring was done by professional licensed contractors, students in the Electronics Department installed data cabling for Internet access and television and set up the internal wireless network. These students were also in on the solar panel installation. Heating and air conditioning students used the project to learn about the energy-efficient installation process as they observed professional contractors at work.

The final piece was the acquisition of furniture arranged by the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team. SIFE coordinated a donation of furnishings and decorations from IKEA valued at $57,000. The sustainable furniture is recyclable and environmentally-friendly.

“We are truly grateful for the way the community stepped in to volunteer and donate time, resources and supplies to this project,” said Winans. “We began with a groundbreaking last April. And now the SAM has turned out to be all we had hoped it would be and that was to provide an informal education into sustainable energy technologies to our students and the chance to share that concept with the community.”

The CTC SAM house will now be available for public tours. “We will conduct tours for school groups in conjunction with Planetarium visits and college tours upon request,” noted Winans. “We will also continue to use the structure for classroom technological and energy-efficient systems demonstrations.”

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