Sponsor Spotlight

Center of Excellence for Energy Technology Prepares TCC Students for Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

When community colleges construct new buildings, they are making significant long-term investments.  These new buildings must be equipped to handle the needs of today’s students, as well as adapt to future needs. This idea was central to the design and construction of the Center of Excellence for Energy Technology. This innovative building on the Tarrant County College (TCC) south campus offers interactive features and state-of-the-art technology, which enable students to learn the skills that are necessary for the industrial jobs of today and tomorrow. It is the first all new building to be constructed on this campus in almost 50 years.

Using the Ferris State University facility for HVACR and Engineering Training as a model, TCC partnered with Fort Worth-based Freese and Nichols and with BNIM, a Kansas City-based architecture firm, to create a facility with an engaging learning environment that also serves as a model of sustainable building and conservation practices. The structure features open ceilings and see-through walls with pipes, duct work, and other equipment labeled and color-coded by function. This allows students to see how the systems are installed and fit together. There is also visual access to the mechanical rooms, which are traditionally hidden in a lower level or on the roof. At the Center of Excellence for Energy Technology, these areas are centrally located behind storefront walls and are easily accessible for observation.

One of the most prominent features in the facility is the air duct fabrication laboratory. It features a small-scale home simulating the conditions that students will encounter when working at new home construction sites. The lab also provides students with access to a computer-operated laser cutting machine so they may learn to create custom air duct panels. The equipment is widely used in the industry, but few educational programs across the nation have a machine available to students.

In addition to teaching skills necessary for HVACR jobs, the Center of Excellence for Energy Technology educates students about sustainable building practices by integrating these elements into the structural design. Solar panels, which provide about one-third of the building’s energy during its peak load, have been seamlessly incorporated into the public courtyard design as trellises. Also, a wind turbine on campus will provide students with a practical tool for learning how the generators work and a better understanding how wind resources can help address and impact overall energy needs and usage.

Additional energy conservation features include the use of geothermal wells to help regulate the building temperature and the integration of daylight harvesting into the architectural design to reduce the use of artificial lights. The wings of the building were created in an “H” shape to allow daylight into more of the interior sections. 

 

The Center of Excellence for Energy Technology building also includes sustainable water management systems. The building’s public courtyard is composed of permeable pavers and bioretention swales that remove pollutants and then release water into the soil to irrigate landscaping features, or slowly drain it into the city’s stormwater system.

While students get the most use out of the building, the Center of Excellence for Energy Technology is also intended for public use. The facility includes a large public space that may be used for community or campus events.

The Center of Excellence for Energy Technology was a wise investment for TCC and reflects the higher education institution’s commitment to innovation in education.  Through design, the building is transformed from a place that merely houses classrooms to actually becoming an integral part of the lesson. And, with careful planning and an eye on future trends, the building will adapt to future needs so that it remains an asset to the school and to the community for many years to come.

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Program Recap

CONSTRUCTION…DECONSTRUCTED

February 17, 2016

A panel of contractors and Owners gave firsthand accounts of what it’s like being in the construction industry in 2016. Check out the panelists' bios here.

Trent Prim, of Prim Construction, , shed light on the challenges of cost estimating. He stated that telling a client a project was under-bid is never an easy conversation. His solution is to work with Owners who understand that the economy is in constant fluctuation. He also stressed the importance of the client/contractor relationship saying, “We pick our Owners just as much as they pick us. We can’t be all things to everyone". 

Gary Griffith of Fort Worth ISD, , provided an Owner’s perspective on the topic saying “We are all living the reality of building things that were priced in a different economy”.  A great example, is that the recent low fuel prices have allowed a lot more bang for your buck for cities as well as school districts across North Texas. 

Glenn Balog with the City of Fort Worth @cityoffortworth shared the benefits of over estimating the project cost. In 2009, Fort Worth ISD constructed an entire school with the additional funds that were available after over estimating construction costs on a Bond Program. He also stressed the importance of voting for bond packages because it is the only way schools receive funding for repairs and new construction. Wayne Warren with AECOM  agreed with Glenn stating, "Every one of us in this industry is looking for cost certainty." Warren went onto say that "the delivery method is key."

Josh Minor with Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, , and Gary Griffith shared the importance of the technology. They shared a software example that allows clients to walk through new or old construction with a tablet and see the location of plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems within the walls. This high-tech software may seem like something from a futuristic movie, but believe it or not it is available now — for a price. Many find themselves asking, “Is the product worth the cost?” But Owners benefit from this software by being able to address issues in the future such as pipe leaks and electrical short circuits.    

New construction is something that the DFW Metroplex is accustomed to. Jorden Dial with Joeris General Contractors, , was quoted saying, “Bizznow shared that DFW beat out Northern NJ and is now ranked fourth in new construction in 2015”. This is great news for the construction industry as well as A/E firms across North Texas.

As always, we want to say a huge thank you to our panelists for all they shared with us. We also want to show appreciation for our moderartor, Rachel Vogel Marker, the managing director of EMRAES, a consulting firm focused on all aspects of the Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industry. Marker was the founding President of the SMPS Fort Worth chapter and remains active in the association.

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2017-18 Slate for Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce by acclamation the Approved Officers Slate for the 2017–18 year. The following officers have been reviewed and confirmed by our Nominating Committee and will assume the following positions...

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