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Solar classroom shines light on renewable energy at Brooks Campus

Solar Classroom at MHC Brooks Campus
September 9, 2021

Medicine Hat College (MHC) and community leaders celebrated the latest addition to learning at Brooks Campus on Wednesday with the grand opening of a solar classroom.

This new space is a collaborative effort that demonstrates the integration of solar technology into the built environment and provides teaching and learning opportunities for students, staff and the region. Funding for this project was made possible by EBSCO Solar, a grant program that funds solar installations at libraries across North America. MHC was the first Canadian institution to win the $100,000 grant in June 2019 to help reduce its environmental footprint while providing valuable educational experiences.

“The library is a hub of student activity at the Brooks campus, and MHC’s Library Services envisioned an outdoor teaching and learning space adjacent to the main library that was built harmoniously with the natural environment,” explains Jason Openo, director of teaching and learning at MHC.

One of the major selling features of the grant was the level of student involvement required in the design and construction process. MHC’s Built Environment and Engineering Technology students worked through a design thinking methodology as part of their academic studies to develop concepts that aligned with the unique needs of the campus community. Their ideas were then shared broadly and subjected to a peer review process before the project was awarded to local contractors Terralta and Brost Developments in August 2020.

Ribbon cutting event to open solar classroom at Brooks Campus

The new solar classroom at MHC's Brooks Campus was celebrated with a ribbon cutting event on Sept. 8, 2021. [Photo: left to right] Jason Openo, Director of Teaching and Learning (MHC), Barry Morishita, mayor (City of Brooks), Kevin Shufflebotham, president and CEO (MHC), Jessica Surgenor, Brooks Campus administrator (MHC), Molly Douglas, reeve (County of Newell), Marcus Campbell (Terralta).

“Student learning was built into the entire process,” adds Openo. “Our contractors saw the opportunities for this to be a space that encourages student curiosity and learning about creative alternative energy integrated with the built environment and brought their vision to light.”

Construction wrapped up in August 2021, with the final space opening at an important time.

“With outdoor gatherings encouraged due to ongoing challenges associated with the pandemic, this space provides an alternate venue to connect and learn at the Brooks Campus. It also shows how solar can be built into the urban environment at a time when we are seeing and experiencing the effects of climate change.”