When the Bethlehem-based community college first envisioned the new campus in Tannersville, designers conceived a plan that would have minimal impact on the environment and create an energy-efficient space by integrating alternative energy sources into its lighting and heating/air conditioning systems. Perched on a ridge above Route 715 just south of Interstate 80, the stone-and-glass campus is open, light-filled and inviting. The Eastern Pennysylvania Chapter of the American Institute for Architects presented NCC with a special citation for sustainability and site planning for the campus.
You don’t have to be an architect or engineer to see that the space is modern and attractive inside and out. Construction followed LEED-gold standards. The lofty campus also features an array of solar photovoltaic panels, central geothermal heating and cooling and high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting systems that aim to reduce annual energy consumption by 80 percent when compared to traditional construction. Its plumbing fixtures, from the toilets and sinks in the lavs to the showers, are all low-flow. Even its landscaping features swales located to capture rainwater runoff.
Now NCC is soliciting bids for a 10 kilowatt wind turbine that will send wind-generated power into the school’s electrical system via its electrical wiring laboratory. Students taking alternative-energy classes will have the opportunity to work on a smaller but still functional 1 kilowatt turbine, assembling outside the classroom, then connecting it to the power system. The course echoes the approach of solar-energy classes NCC offers at its Bethlehem campus, where students wire and assemble solar panels, install them and connect them, then disassemble their work at the end of the course.
NCC has set a fine example of planning and building with efficiency in mind, adding an attractive site to the Monroe County landscape. Extending the idea of efficient building design and alternative energy use via hands-on class offerings only reinforces the school’s commendable commitment the environment and practical education with an eye to the future.