KCC’s ATEC Building earns LEED gold

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KCC ATEC open house: A crowd gathered April 17 for an open house and ribbon cutting at the KCC Advanced Technology Education Center.

The sustainable design of Kankakee Community College’s newest building has earned the college a $150,000 grant, and status as a LEED Gold-certified building.

The Advanced Technology Education Center, known as ATEC, opened in January 2019 on the college’s Riverfront Campus in Kankakee. It houses KCC’s award-winning Electrical Engineering Technology program.

LEED certification is based on scores given to the building for its environmentally-friendly attributes. The process looks at a facility comprehensively, considering site issues, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials use and indoor environmental quality.

“We are very proud to showcase so many environmentally friendly features in one place,” said Rob Kenney, KCC’s coordinator of facility construction. “The building runs in a very cost-effective manner, while still producing fewer greenhouse gases than a similarly-sized non-LEED building would. Through motion sensors and other efficiencies, the savings occur without affecting people’s comfort. It is a great demonstration of the college’s commitment to responsible architecture.”

Within the two-story, 21,000 square foot ATEC building, there are classrooms, labs, offices, and support spaces to provide hands-on technical training in fields such as wind generation, solar thermal, solar photo-voltaic systems, and electrical (National Electric Code) instruction. The facility also houses continuing training for technicians and electricians who are already in the profession.

The building includes numerous features which were planned out to ensure energy efficiency. Among the ways it treads lightly on the environment, the center has a white synthetic roof, geothermal wells for heating and cooling, automated temperature controls, abundant natural light, and light sensors. A portion of the center’s electricity is channeled through KCC’s wind turbine and photovoltaic array. It also incorporates low-flow fixtures and high-efficiency lighting.

KCC will receive $150,000 in grant funds from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation  which recognizes the building’s sustainable and energy efficient design and construction. The money was allocated in 2015. It is from an independent foundation endowed by Commonwealth Edison. Their mission, as stated at illinoiscleanenergy.org, is to “improve energy efficiency, advance the development and use of renewable energy resources, and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities all across Illinois.”

BLDD Architects of Chicago was the architect, and Piggush Simoneau, Inc. of Kankakee was the builder.

The ATEC Building opened for classes for the first time in January 2019.

In 2007, KCC signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. The college also participates at the gold level in the Illinois Sustainable University Compact. As part of these commitments, all new college construction will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or higher.

In 2014, KCC’s North Extension Center at 450 N. Kinzie Ave. in Bradley became Kankakee County’s first building to earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Sidebar: Energy efficiency at KCC’s Advanced Technology Education Center

  • The high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning systems include a geothermal field with distributed heat pumps to heat and cool the building efficiently.
  • Light sensors in public spaces dim and/or turn off lighting to conserve energy.
  • Occupancy sensors in classrooms, labs and offices turn lights on and off to save energy.
  • All lighting uses LED bulbs, which are extremely energy efficient and consume up to 90% less power than incandescent.
  • An automation computer schedules lighting, heating and air-conditioning for optimum efficiency.
  • Outside plants were chosen based on their impact to the environment. They do not need excessive watering or maintenance.
  • All plumbing fixtures are low flow and controlled by motion sensors to save on water.
  • The wind turbine helps supply a portion of the power for the building.
  • All furniture and carpets were manufactured with recycled content.
  • The white roof reflects the sun to reduce heat gain on the building.

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