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Energy research laboratory breaks ground at Hampden-Sydney College

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.EnergyLabI-400

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.

EnergyLabII-400The 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.