It will also provide entrepreneurs and businesses with the opportunity to prototype, test and demonstrate new technologies.
The Sustainable Energy Centre will itself be a “living building,” meaning all of the building’s energy and water requirements are secured on-site from geothermal, solar, wind and other resources, thus reducing its ecological footprint.
Although the centre will mostly focus on the construction of energy-efficient small buildings, Xstrata Nickel’s vice-president of Sudbury operations said he hopes the mining company will be able to benefit from the research it conducts.
“We move an awful lot of air in our mines. It’s the most energy-intensive part of our business,” said Mike Romaniuk, speaking at a press conference at the college’s eDome facility.
“We have to heat the air in our mines in the winter and cool it in the summer if it’s deep enough. Exploring technologies to improve how we use that air, how much air we use, and improve how we heat and cool it (is important to us).
“Like any other business, we also have a lot of buildings. So if we can improve the energy efficiency of any of the buildings we use or occupy, we’re obviously going to get a benefit.”
Romaniuk said his company also contributed to the centre because of the positive impact it will have on Sudbury’s economy.
The first phase of construction will begin in the spring of 2008 and conclude in the fall. The second phase will begin in the spring of 2009 and conclude by year’s end. In the interim, the centre is operating out of the college’s main building and is currently involved in a number of research projects. There are 24 energy systems technology students currently enrolled in the program.
“This is a wonderful boost for the project. It’s a $6 million project, so $2 million is a tremendous contribution to getting us to our goal,” said Cambrian College president Sylvia Barnard.
Besides the contribution from Xstrata Nickel, the centre has also received some recent government funding.
On Nov. 26, during a visit to Sudbury, FedNor Minister Tony Clement announced a $280,000 contribution towards the centre.
And in August, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation contributed $1 million towards the centre’s construction.
Because the building code in Ontario changed in 2006 to make green building practices mandatory, energy systems management technology students studying at the centre will be in demand, Barnard said.
“Our students will be right up to their eyeballs in all of this, and that means we’ll be putting a workforce out that will be able to work with companies on how to retrofit and become greener.”