Hocking College — a two-year technical college in Nelsonville, Ohio — has trained its students for jobs in Ohio's manufacturing sector since 1968.  As these jobs began leaving the state, Hocking College saw the potential for growth in alternative energy jobs.  The school launched the Energy Institute in 2002, with just three students to offer training in advanced energy and fuel cells.  Enrollment has since increased to 125 students and the curriculum has also expanded to include hybrid and plug-in vehicle courses, as well as courses about wind and solar power. 

The school's newly completed building, located in Hocking County, reflects Hocking College's commitment to participating in the new green economy.  The 12,200 square-foot building is on track to become the first higher education building in Ohio to receive LEED Platinum certification.  



Some of the building's green features include the following:

  • 26 geothermal wells for heating and cooling;
  • A 21 kW roof-integrated photovoltaic system;
  • An expansive vegetated roof;
  • North-South orientation to maximize natural light;
  • CNG filling station and plug-in hybrid charging stations;
  • A solar hot water heater; and
  • Durable, low-maintenance concrete floors. 

Building and designing this structure to LEED Platinum specs involved the collaborative efforts of several parties, including the Energy Institute, Robertson Construction, and architectural firm Design Group of Columbus, Ohio.  Once up and running, HCEI will use half as much energy as a similar building.  It's estimated to save the college about $10,000 a year. 

As anyone familiar with the LEED projects knows, it's important to have a collaborative and flexible environment and that's how this project team worked.  Changes were made (i.e., the addition of a wind turbine and electric car plug-in stations using grant money), and the construction team was willing to accommodate.  Dean of HCEI, Jerry Hutton, recalls, "If the (general contractor) Robertson had given me heartburn over these changes, it would have been very difficult to get this completed.  But they took it in stride and stayed focused on getting the job done on time and on budget."


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This past fall, then-senator Barack Obama made a campaign stop at Hocking College and had this to say: "This college is just outstanding in preparing young people to work in green-collar jobs, which are the jobs of the future."  This new facility could become a lighthouse project for the new green economy.

Photo credits: Feinknopf Photography.