Greenfield Community College’s south lawn was the stage for a groundbreaking ceremony Friday, attended by Congressman John W. Olver (D-Amherst), donors Don and Sherry Rice and representatives from GCC’s staff, faculty and Trustees. The weather cooperatively provided a sunny day to demonstrate the contribution that solar power, among other alternative energy systems, will ultimately bring to a new greenhouse, slated for completion in late March, 2011.
Thanks to a $393,400 grant from the US Department of Energy earmarked by Congressman Olver, and a major gift from Sherry and Don Rice of $200,000, the college will construct a super-energy efficient 1,000 sq ft greenhouse that will include the infrastructure for photovoltaic, solar thermal and geothermal systems, eventually resulting in a zero-net energy building. GCC President Robert L. Pura expressed his thanks to those whose contributions made the dream of this structure a reality. “Without the significant support of the Congressman and the Rice family, and the hard work of GCC’s Science and Facilities Departments over the past two years, this would not have been possible. This greenhouse showcases GCC’s commitment to and leadership in developing a sustainable future,” he said. “It will be a demonstration teaching and learning space for our Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Program, support Horticulture and Botany classes and any future coursework in Sustainable Agriculture, and provide another lifelong learning resource for community members through our Community Education Department.”
The construction contract was awarded to Kronenberger and Sons Restoration, Inc,, who will begin work immediately. Excavation for site work and utilities relocation will take place over the next three weeks, with building construction scheduled to begin in early December. Access to the GCC Main Campus South Wing 3rd floor will be limited for the duration of the project.