By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald

It’s one thing to read about the latest trends in “green” building and renewable energy technology.

But to get hands-on experience — say, for example, installing solar panels or building a rainwater filtration system — is an entirely different matter in terms of understanding sustainability.

At Central Texas College, a new initiative now in the works focuses on exactly such a goal.

This week the college announced a plan to design and build an 800-square-foot “green” house on the Killeen campus.

The project, which was instigated by CTC professor Mark Winans, aims to incorporate a range of renewable energy designs and building techniques. Just a few include solar voltaic (PV) system panels, a solar hot water system and the instillation of “Smart Grid/Smart Home” systems.

Winans, who chairs CTC’s electronics department, said he is striving for a collaborative effort that includes students majoring in building trades, agriculture/horticulture and business. He also said the end goal is for the facility to become an education center for the broader community.

“We hope to get the campus and the community involved in this project,” Winans said. “The building site will be located across the street from the Planetarium and we hope to be able to incorporate tours of the building into school group visits.”

In a release announcing the project, Winans stressed that plans are still in the early phases. A groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for late spring and the actual building phase will occur through the summer and fall.

According to the release, “the comprehensive project will provide students with exposure to how renewable energy goals impact the architecture, construction and landscaping phases.”

The effort to incorporate students in building a high efficiency structure is a first for CTC. It is not, however, the first example of a green building on campus. Earlier this year CTC had a newly constructed building that received LEED certification status. Two other building projects in addition to the new house are also striving for LEED certification. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design is a certification system recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council and takes into consideration factors such as energy savings, CO2 emissions, and water efficiency.