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News Releases

October 15, 2010

Groundbreaking of the Sustainable Energy Technology Center

DANVILLE, Va., Oct. 15, 2010- Today marks another day of progress as ground was broken for a new research and development (R&D) facility located on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). Groundbreaking was held for the construction of a new facility that will be a regional asset for the development of renewable energy and bioproducts industry in Southern Virginia.  The Sustainable Energy Technology Center (SEnTeC), a R&D emphasis area for IALR, is being created to develop enhanced bio-based fuels and to perpetuate the strong agricultural history of the region.

Speaking to the crowd gathered outside the construction site, Vice Chairman of the Tobacco Indemnification Commission Senator Frank Ruff, was joined by Delegate Danny Marshall, City of Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Henry (Hank) Davis and Chairman of the Future of the Piedmont Foundation Ben Davenport who all gave remarks about the new facility. 

Executive Director of the Tobacco Indemnification Commission Neal Noyes, Delegate Donald Merricks, Chairman of the IALR Board of Trustees M. Scott Waller and Executive Director of IALR Liam Leightley, joined Senator Ruff, Delegate Marshall, Saunders, and Davis for the turning of the soil.

The new facility, funded through a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification Commission and Community Revitalization Commission, includes 25,000 square feet of research laboratories, research support laboratories, graduate student research spaces and faculty offices. Management of the enterprise is directed toward technology transfer and associated commercialization. SEnTeC will provide opportunities for contract research and may spin off businesses and/or license technologies developed.

SEnTeC will build upon current research being pursued in the Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources (ISRR).  ISRR is developing plant feed stocks to optimize properties for biofuel production, and is working with local entities to assess the performance of these plants.  These projects will support development of biomass as a feedstock for conversion to ethanol or bio-crude.

The building will also serve as an educational tool to demonstrate sustainable features in action.  SEnTeC anticipates achieving LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  Several of the sustainable features include a rainwater cistern to harvest rainwater for irrigation, use of low-emitting materials, high-efficiency fume hoods, solar thermal panels, high solar reflectance roofing, vegetated green roof, dedicated outdoor air system as well as seventy-five percent of construction waste will be re-used or recycled.  The City of Danville is also contributing to two energy-saving features that include a roof-top Photovoltaic Array, providing on-site renewable energy, and highly efficient LED light fixtures installed throughout public areas in the building.  A full list of sustainable features can be found at

The design of SEnTeC was a collaborative effort.  The lead design architect was Dewberry of Danville, VA.  The laboratory design architect and sustainability consultant for the project was Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Also Perigon Engineering worked in a consultant role for the design of the high bay process labs.  Construction of the facility will be completed by New Atlantic Contracting, Inc. of Winston Salem, NC.

Construction of SEnTeC is scheduled to be completed in November 2011.