RDC gets $9.5 million investment for alternative energy innovations

Ottawa and RDC are 50-50 funding partners for new green energy programs

New alternative energy labs that will help students ultimately diversify Alberta’s economy will come out of a $9.5 million investment in Red Deer College.

“This funding will provide tremendous opportunities,” predicted RDC president Joel Ward — including maximizing learning opportunities through a new research space for innovative, green-energy technologies.

The investment will also allow RDC to save $1-million in annual utility costs through the installation of upgraded lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

Randy Boissonnault, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian heritage minister, made the grant announcement Friday at the RDC Art Centre on behalf of federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.

Boissonnault told an audience of college, city and provincial officials that investing in RDC will help strengthen Canadian innovation and economic growth. It will also provide “good, well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper.”

Of the total investment of $9.5 million, half will come from Ottawa’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and the other half will be made up in matching funding from RDC reserves.

The bulk of the funds — $7 million — will be spent on initiatives under the college’s Green Energy Master Plan. By replacing incandescent and fluorescent lights in existing RDC buildings with high-efficiency ones, and upgrading heating, ventilation and automation systems, the college expects to save $1-million a year on utility costs.

Ward said these savings can be redirected towards students programs and services. He explained, “We have a new residence to build, new programs and a new centre to open,” referring to the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, which will be designed to high energy-efficiency standards.

RDC also wants to be a leader in providing student with research and develop opportunities for more efficient, green energy products, in partnership with industry entrepreneurs.

A $2.5 million investment will create an alternative energy innovation labs. Ward said these will be used by multiple programs, including management, trades and technologies, and continuing education students.

“Small businesses can come in with new ideas,” he added, and work with students on innovative designs and prototypes that use solar, wind and geothermal power and other alternative energies to help diversify Alberta’s economy.

Alberta Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt also attended the RDC event and praised the investment, saying “Great jobs begin with a good education.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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