Future Virginia College Building Designed for Net-Zero

By Eric Althoff

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Although it won’t be completed until the spring of 2023, Piedmont Virginia Community College’s Advanced Technical Training Center will be the first higher-education building in the state of Virginia to be net zero energy. When it opens, the Advanced Technical Training Center will be among a select few community college facilities across the nation that are net-zero.

The $21 million Advanced Technical Training Center will include robotics and forensics laboratories, instructional spaces as well as areas devoted to advanced manufacturing courses. Among its amenities will be a cafeteria, veterans resources center and a commons area for students. Furthermore, it will have office spaces dedicated to career advice, student services and admissions. The center will also boast a large event space whose area melds with the outdoors so that public programs can be held both indoors and outdoors.

In addition to its energy-forward paradigm, the center will offer courses and programs that will train community college students for the trade careers of tomorrow. PVCC aims to have the new center be an anchor for the greater Charlottesville community.

VMDO Architects, which is based in Charlottesville, has previously designed other net zero energy educational facilities, including the Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Va., which is the world’s first LEED Zero-certified school, and the Alice West Fleet Elementary School, also in Arlington.

“In their focus on student success, community colleges are innovative training grounds and important contributors to local and regional economies,” Joe Atkins, principal at VMDO Architects, said recently. “It’s so rewarding to see PVCC explore net zero energy as a learning opportunity that will prepare students for future workforce and career opportunities.”

Additionally, officials at PVCC said that their community college is excited to lead the way in energy efficiency at their campus, as well as to be an example for other campuses—and indeed, all buildings—throughout Virginia as they continue to train professionals to work in the green economy of tomorrow.

“We are so pleased to be leading the way by constructing this net zero energy building which will become the centerpiece of our beautiful campus,” said PVCC President Frank Friedman in a recent statement.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged that by 2050, the commonwealth will be getting 100 percent of its necessary energy from renewable sources.

Piedmont Virginia Community College was founded in 1972, and primarily serves commuter students in Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties in Central Virginia. It is one of 23 community colleges that are part of the Virginia Community College System.