Monday, November 28, 2016

Community College Hub Wins Sustainability Award

The sustainability and Innovation Hub of Montgomery County Community College was awarded the Montgomery County Planning Commission's 2016 Montgomery County Award for Sustainable Design.

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

The Sustainability and Innovation Hub of Montgomery  County Community College (MCCC), located in Pottstown  Borough, received a 2016 Montgomery Award for sustainable design, successful restoration, vision, and collaborative efforts. 

This unique adaptive reuse project transformed a former PECO energy substation and brownfield site into a state-of-the-art center for education, innovation, and conservation.


Pottstown Borough has always had a redevelopment vision for its riverfront. 

Located in Riverfront Park, this building was once a PECO sub-station.
Located adjacent to the borough’s 30-acre Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River Trail, this property has long been a focus for revitalization and is highlighted in Pottstown’s redevelopment plan and the 2003 Riverfront and Memorial Parks Master Plan. 

This former three-acre brownfield site contained a PECO energy substation, built in 1911, which remained vacant for much of the 1990s until it was purchased by the borough in 1997. 

The borough began renovations to convert the north side of the building into offices with the assistance of state, county, and local governments and the Montgomery County Lands Trust. 

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA) relocated its offices to the site in 2002. 

In 2007, the MCCC took ownership and began planning for the rehabilitation of the property and expansion of its west campus.


Phase I

MCCC developed the site in three phases. Phase I began in 2010 with the construction of a 202-space green parking lot. 

The parking lot is designed to retain storm water.
The development involved site remediation and the installation of a rainwater collection system that prevents contaminants from leaching into the groundwater. 

The innovative design of this green parking lot utilized bioretention and involved the planting of over 130 native trees, shrubs, and perennials, providing an attractive and well-shaded parking area. LED lighting was also installed throughout the parking lot using an EPA grant. 

The Hub's green roof.
This well-designed parking lot, which is shared with visitors to the adjacent Riverfront Park and Schuylkill River Trail, was a major element in the transformation of the property. 

Phase II

Completed in January 2012, Phase II involved the removal of mold, lead, and asbestos from the building and the demolition and remediation of the building’s south side. 

The old roof was replaced with an eco-friendly green roof, a new entrance and handicap-accessible ramp were constructed, energy-efficient windows were installed, and water and sewer services were
The turbines generate enough electricity to run the LED lights in the lot.
Between Phases II and III, MCCC installed four wind turbines on the property. 

The turbines produce a collective 4,000 watts of energy—enough to power the LED lighting throughout the parking lot. The turbines were designed as a demonstration project to teach students and the community about energy production.

Phase III

The final phase was completed in March 2016 and involved the construction of the Sustainability and Innovation Hub in the building’s south side. 

The hub enables MCCC to bring specialized education and workforce training to the Pottstown area. 

The aquaponics/hydroponics lab. 
The first floor features an innovative Aquaponics/Hydroponics teaching laboratory, which supports the interdisciplinary environmental studies program. 

The second floor is the Engineering Design Center, which supports the engineering technology program, bringing the degree to Pottstown for the first time. 

The third floor provides flexible innovation space for mentorship, learning, and collaboration.
The grand opening of the hub took place on April 18, 2016.


This project is a result of extensive collaboration involving years of planning and successful partnerships with many private and public organizations including Pottstown Borough, the Montgomery County Community College, and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. 

The engineering lab
The college partnered with the SRHA to develop the River of Revolutions Interpretive Center, which
serves as a visitor center for the Schuylkill River region and focuses on the history of the river. 

Many partners worked together to create the Pottstown RiverWalk, a 1-mile scenic trail located in Riverfront Park that meanders through the woods and along the banks of the Manatawny Creek and connects to the Schuylkill River Trail. 

It features a series of interpretive signs highlighting the ecosystem surrounding the river.

The Sustainability and Innovation Hub is an outstanding example of how vision, creative planning and design, and collaboration brought exciting new life to an existing building and created an asset for the college and community. 

The hub, an innovative and collaborative space, offers opportunities for faculty, students, and the community to learn, share information, and work together to create a healthy and sustainable environment.

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