Students See Green Building Taking Shape at Eastern Wake 4.0 Site

Earth Day Field Trip Shows Sustainable Building on Future Campus

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 22, 2022) – Wake Tech students celebrated Earth Day in a cool way with a tour of the eco-friendly Central Energy Plant under construction on the college’s future campus in Wendell.

Architectural Technology and Construction Management degree students studying green building and design got a firsthand look at environmentally sustainable building features taking shape during a field trip at the Eastern Wake 4.0 construction site on Friday.

The Central Energy Plant is the first building under construction, but all buildings planned at the site are designed with green building features including:

  • Sustainable building materials
  • High-efficiency lighting design
  • Natural daylight and connection to nature
  • Use of geothermal wells to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings
  • District heating and cooling system, where water is pumped underground to every building for heating and cooling
  • Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity
  • Use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, such as paint, sealers and cleaning products, which make the air healthier to breathe
  • Access to electric vehicle charging stations

"Sustainable elements like daylighting, thermal comfort, access to nature, acoustics and indoor air quality can create a space where students and teachers have improved heath, wellness and academic performance," says Sarah Burnette, a Wake Tech design and construction project manager. "Site tours like these help equip the students with real-world experience to not only help them to understand the field that they are studying, but also catch a glimpse into what their career path can look like."

The plant will house chillers and boilers for supplemental heating and cooling campus wide. Energy savings and efficiencies will be incorporated using advanced solar technology and geothermal wells. The Central Energy Plant will include an apprenticeship training center to support nearby companies such as Siemens.

In addition to learning about the interior green building and design features, the students also got to watch geothermal well drilling in action. In all, a geothermal well field comprised of 297 wells will use the Earth to heat and cool buildings on the future campus.

"Seeing the geothermal well area was really neat," said Kaitlyn Dimmitt, an Architectural Technology student. "I've learned about geothermal energy in other classes, but I've never seen it on such a large scale before, so it was very interesting to see all the components and how they come together. I'm very much a visual learner, so being able to be here and see it in person really helps me to learn more about the program and real-life experience."

Wake Tech is currently seeking Green Globes certification for buildings at Eastern Wake 4.0, demonstrating leadership in applying best practices regarding energy, water and environmental efficiency.

Wake Tech achieved its first Green Globes certified project at the Lilly Science and Technology Center, which recently opened at the RTP Campus. This building earned a Two Green Globes rating and includes energy efficient technology, high-efficiency lighting design, recycling and use of low VOC materials.