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Powerhouse celebrated for energy efficiency

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers honored Beloit College’s Powerhouse with the Focus on Energy 2021 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award on Wednesday, September 8. Governor Evers commended the new student hub for its innovative approach to conserving energy and reducing the Beloit community’s carbon footprint.

“I’m always impressed with how important the college is to the city of Beloit and how important the city of Beloit is to the college,” says Governor Evers. “This facility serves as a great example of what can be accomplished when people come together and create something that is both sustainable and special.”

Governor Tony Evers greets students during an event honoring the energy efficiency of the Powerho... Governor Tony Evers greets students during an event honoring the energy efficiency of the Powerhouse.On Wednesday, September 8, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers presented Beloit College with a Focus on Energy® 2021 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award. The College is one of 12 recipients to receive the award, earning recognition for its commitment to energy efficiency for the Powerhouse.

“We’re extremely honored to be recognized by Governor Evers for our commitment to protect the environment for today and future generations,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman, who accepted the award during the on-campus ceremony.

More than a decade ago, Bierman had the idea to transform the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station into an integrated student center connecting the College with the broader Beloit community. The result was the Powerhouse, a 120,000 square-foot student union, recreation center, and athletic facility.

The facility, designed by world-renowned architects Studio Gang, Chicago, has been recognized internationally for its innovative interior architecture.

The Powerhouse facility uses the Rock River as its energy source. In a process unique to North America, it mixes river thermal with radiant cooling and heating to reduce carbon emissions.

The College began working on the collaborative $38 million project in 2011 with significant state, federal, and community support and private fundraising, allowing the Powerhouse to open debt-free.

“The Powerhouse would not be possible without the numerous government and community agencies who helped us convert, reuse, and sustain the old power plant while saving and sustaining our electrical needs,” continued Bierman.

During the event, Governor Evers praised the Powerhouse’s sustainability efforts, saying, “This facility serves as a great example of what can be accomplished when people come together and create something that is both sustainable and special. It took an old coal power plant — used for years to produce energy — and turned it into a space where students can now burn off energy on their own. What a great tradeoff.”

The College has been devoted to reducing energy waste by upgrading energy efficiency in numerous facilities across campus. Annually, the College saves 959,000 kWh of electricity and 39,000 therms of natural gas through the Powerhouse alone.

“The Beloit Powerhouse is the perfect example of bringing together public and private resources to create an energy efficient and sustainable facility,” said Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq.

September 08, 2021

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