Once completed in December, a 26- x 45-ft. freestanding research facility will provide students and faculty at Hampden-Sydney College’s departments of Physics & Astronomy and Mathematics & Computer Science a unique opportunity to research energy monitoring, energy conservation, and sustainable buildings in a grant-based project on its Virginia campus.
The building is constructed with walls of 1-ft.-thick concrete supplied by W.C. Newman Co. of Farmville, Va. The mix is designed with 1-in. long helix steel fibers, which provide strength and flexibility to the concrete and uphold structural integrity in tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and blasts. By utilizing Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Polytorx’s helix steel, the project’s concrete contractor, TF Forming Systems of Green Bay, displaced 12,690 lb. of conventional rebar.
The ultimate objective of the project is to test the wall’s thermal mass by maintaining proper temperatures inside the building with minimal energy-input using sustainable resources. Solar panels and geothermal wells will provide heated or cooled water for tubing inside the walls, maintaining a consistent, comfortable climate within the structure.
With record-cold temperatures across the country this past winter, increasing energy costs and government restrictions on traditional energy sources, the need to find cost-effective and energy-efficient technologies for both homes and commercial buildings is helping to drive the evolution of building technologies. Hampden-Sydney College hopes that the Energy Research Laboratory will play a key role in that ongoing development.