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College gets stimulus funds

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Antioch College was identified last week as one of 13 Ohio institutions of higher education chosen to receive federal stimulus funds for energy conservation projects. Antioch received a grant of $289,887 of federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. All together, the federal funds allotted to Ohio institutions of high learning and state agencies totaled $10.7 million.

The college will use the funds for a complete energy retrofit for the Glen Helen Building and Trailside Museum, according to Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis this week.

“We’re one of the foremost environmental education facilities out there, and this allows us to practice what we preach,” Boutis said. The project will allow the Glen to “put more resources into education” due to energy cost savings, and also enables Glen staff to “use the facilities to teach people how to conserve resources.”

The Glen estimates that the total project could cost up to $400,000, and will be launching a fundraising campaign to match the federal funds with local donations.

The grant proposal was jointly prepared by Boutis and Antioch College alum John Feinberg, a historic preservation specialist who is acting as a consultant regarding campus facilities.

“We’re thrilled,” said Antioch College Interim President Matthew Derr this week. The grant award signals “the growing health of the college and the growing relationship between the Glen and the college staff,” he said.

The Trailside Museum was built in 1952 and the Glen Helen Building, in 1973, and both were considered models of good environmental practices at the time, according to Boutis, who said those practices included an emphasis on using natural woods and stones from a local source. Designed by Reid Viemeister with consultation from architect Jack Kline, the Glen building was constructed by Bill Hooper.

“Both of these buildings are poster children for how environmental buildings were built before the oil crisis,” Boutis said. Builders of the time could not anticipate today’s need for energy conservation and sustainable practices, however,

Consequently, the proposed retrofit’s biggest component will be a closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system, to replace the original furnaces and air conditioning units. Because the buildings are located in the Glen where there are few opportunities to create the geothermal bore field, the bore field will be located beneath the Glen building parking lot, Boutis said.

The project will also include upgrading lights, replacing the building’s original windows, and insulating the slabs beneath the floor.

“We’re looking at every place the building uses energy, including heating, cooling, light and humidity control,” Boutis said.

The college is required by the grant to finish the project by July 2012, although they hope to complete it by next summer, Boutis said. In the proposal, Boutis and Feinberg estimated that the project would create one full-time and eight part-time jobs, both directly and indirectly with people hired by the Glen and those hired by contracters.

Other Ohio institutions awarded the grants include the Cleveland Institute of Art, Hocking Technical College, Oberlin College, Ohio University, Ohio Wesleyan, Wittenberg University and Ursuline College.

A test geothermal bore field at the college campus this spring has shown that geothermal heating and cooling is a viable option for the whole college campus, according to Derr, who said the college is exploring partnerships that would make using geothermal heat a financially viable option.

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