Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA— The Montgomery County Planning Commission recently presented Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) with a 2016 Montgomery Award for the planning and design of its Sustainability and Innovation Hub at 140 College Drive, Pottstown.
MCCC was one of five award recipients to receive this honor during a recent awards ceremony held at Theatre Horizon in Norristown. The other recipients are The Courts of Spring Mill Station, Whitemarsh Township; Narberth Place, Narberth Borough; Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton Township; and Reliance Crossing, Souderton Borough. Additionally, Paul W. Meyer, the F. Otto Haas Executive of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, received the 2016 Planning Advocate Award.
MCCC’s Hub not only has programs in sustainability and innovation, but the building and property are themselves models of these principles. During the course of six years, MCCC transformed the building, a former energy substation, and three-acre brownfield site into a state-of-the-art center for education, innovation and conservation.
“The building is a sustainable energy hub outside–with the wind turbines, green roof and impervious parking lot—and inside—with programs in aquaponics, hydroponics, robotics, engineering and software development,” said Vice President of West Campus Dr. David DiMattio. “The Hub also represents collaboration with the community, through partnerships with the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage area, Riverfront Park, Schuylkill River Trail and Pottstown Borough.”
The architect for the project was Murray Associates Architects of Harrisburg, and the engineering company was Bruce Brooks and Associates of Philadelphia.
Pottstown Borough transferred the property to MCCC in 2007. The rehabilitation was both part of Pottstown’s Redevelopment Plan, as outlined in its 2003 “Riverfront & Memorial Parks Master Plan,” and a way for MCCC to expand its West Campus.
Starting in 2010, MCCC developed the site in three extensive phases, concluding in 2016 with the opening of the Hub on April 18.
Phase I started with the installation of a 202-space parking lot. The innovative design uses bioretention and includes the planting of more than 130 native plants and trees. Through an EPA grant, MCCC installed energy-saving LED lighting.
Phase II included abatement and cleaning of mold, lead and asbestos from the building and involved preparing the building’s south side infrastructure for demolition and remediation. MCCC replaced the leaking roof with an eco-friendly green roof; added a new entrance, handicap-accessible ramp and energy efficient windows; and updated water and sewer services.
Between Phases II and III, MCCC installed four wind turbines on the property. The turbines produce a collective 4,000 watts of energy–enough to power the LED parking lot lighting. The turbines were designed as a demonstration project to teach students and the community about alternative energy production.
Phase III involved the construction of the Hub’s classrooms and innovation spaces in the building’s south side. The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area (SRHA) has its headquarters in the north side of the building since 2002, which also includes the River of Revolutions Interpretative Center for visitors.
The Hub’s first floor features an aquaponics and hydroponics teaching laboratory, which supports MCCC’s interdisciplinary Environmental Studies degree program, as well as future programs in the areas such as greenhouse technology, food production, horticulture and landscape design. Aquaponics and hydroponics involve growing fish and soil-less plants in a symbiotic system.
The Hub’s second floor features an Engineering Design Center, which supports MCCC’s Engineering Technology program and prepares graduates for careers in the advanced technology fields of instrumentation, communications and mechanical structures and systems. In this space, MCCC students, faculty and community businesses are working with robotics and 3D printing.
The Hub’s mezzanine floor is a flexible innovation space that can be used by the community, as well as for classes. MCCC holds its new Software Developer Academy in this area.
For more information about MCCC’s Sustainability and Innovation Hub, contact Dr. David DiMattio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-819-2070.