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Penn College Begins Two Projects to Boost Clean Energy, Construction Job Initiatives

Mon June 17, 2024 - Northeast Edition #14
Penn College News

The Clean Energy House training facility.
BRIX Design Group rendering
The Clean Energy House training facility.

A groundbreaking was held at the Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn College) in Williamsport June 13 to kick off two projects funded, in part, by a $2 million U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant.

The ceremony began construction of an 1,800-sq.-ft. Clean Energy House and renovations at the Carl Building Technologies Center on the school's main campus.

According to Penn College President Michael J. Reed, the federal grant focuses on attracting and upskilling the current and future workforce to meet the increasing demand for clean energy, architecture, construction and concrete science professionals. He added that the grant is estimated to result in the creation or retention of more than 435 jobs throughout the region.

Penn College News noted that once constructed, the Clean Energy House will be used for training home-energy professionals with in-demand skills and certifications.

The school's nationally recognized Clean Energy Center will utilize the training house to connect the skilled trades learning facilities with clean energy workforce programs, expand and improve the quality of training and certification testing for new and incumbent clean energy workers, and respond to industry changes affecting the profession.

Additionally, its programs and certification testing will be offered at no cost to students and are intended to produce a pipeline of skilled workers for the construction and energy sectors, Penn College News noted.

Renovations at the Carl Building Technologies Center will enhance instructional labs and learning experiences for more than 1,000 students, creating expanded opportunities for them to hone their skills and develop new ones. A longtime provider of residential construction education, Penn College plans to revise and develop coursework to meet the growing need for commercial construction workers.

"Industry needs more of our graduates, and this grant will allow us to showcase avenues opened by applied technology degrees," Reed said.

Penn College News reported that the school is matching the $2 million federal EDA grant for a $4 million total budget to be allocated over 60 months.

New Facilities Promise to Be State-of-the-Art

Among the other speakers at the event, held at the future site of the Clean Energy House at 214 Park St., in Williamsport, were Alison A. Diehl, executive director of the Clean Energy Center; and Ellyn A. Lester, Penn College's assistant dean of construction and architectural technologies.

"The Clean Energy Center's core mission is to teach people how to reduce energy consumption in their communities and to improve the comfort and safety of buildings," explained Diehl. "As one of the top building science workforce training providers in the country, the center's accredited Home Energy Professional programs teach individuals how to perform home energy assessments and installation techniques to reduce energy bills, while remediating health and safety issues like mold, lead paint and carbon monoxide.

"The people who will be trained in the new Clean Energy House are at the front line of reducing the energy burden in our communities and improving the housing stock for many low-income Pennsylvanians in rural and urban areas," she added.

Lester said the work at the Carl Building Technologies Center includes construction of an industry showroom featuring a rotating display of modern technology and collaborative space for cross-functional learning. A materials library will become a shared home base for numerous product samples used during the design and construction of buildings, such as bird-safe fritted glass and examples of HVAC supply grills as well as more commonplace materials such as paint and tile samples.

In addition, Lester noted that extensive renovations of classroom and lab areas include updates resulting in increased productivity and safety for students and faculty.

Among the enhancements are new lighting, flooring, paint, energy-saving insulated windows, and sound-attenuation techniques to reduce noise. The faculty will have the freedom to completely overhaul lab layouts to include innovative technology and refine student stations, she explained.

"These will create new efficiencies that will support additional enrollment in the building construction programs, which have an ever-increasing waitlist of students wanting to join them," Lester said.

The Clean Energy Center at Penn College is one of the nation's leading providers of clean energy workforce training and technical assistance. Since 1985, the center has developed and delivered workforce training that results in nationally recognized certifications from the Building Performance Institute and Building Operator Certification.

Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and a special mission affiliate of Penn State University, offers degrees and competency credentials in a variety of structural construction program areas from residential and commercial building to concrete science and sustainable design.

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