SUNY Sullivan’s Sustainability Lab Grows The Green Economy

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SUNY Sullivan announces the opening of a unique, state-of-the art Sustainability Lab. The 1,278 square foot facility joins the college’s geothermal HVAC system, solar panel array and wind turbine as a teaching and demonstration tool designed to implement the college’s commitment to be on the forefront of environmentally and socially responsible education and operation.

The Sustainability Lab was funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through the SUNYGreensNY grant consortium of Alfred State College and 6 community colleges. The purpose of the grant is to build green employment training capacity throughout the state. SUNY Sullivan developed several online courses and received $179 thousand to purchase simulators and educational materials for the Green Building Maintenance and Management and Wind Turbine Technology programs.

“Our sustainability programs are transforming the campus into a ‘living laboratory,’ that model the principles we’re talking about in classes,” says SUNY Sullivan professor Helena le Roux. “The lab trainers prepare our students to interface really well with our installed systems-they can actually see them functioning as part of the building and contributing to the college campus.”

While the lab primarily serves the Sustainability Programs at SUNY Sullivan, its usefulness extends to general industrial and mechanical areas. It is unique in its ability to support the college’s green curriculum while also providing training for a workforce that can serve the community in traditional HVAC, electrical, and mechanical areas by providing “hands-on” instruction in HVAC, AC and DC electrical generation and transmission, mechanical systems and hydraulics. It will serve both SUNY Sullivan’s credit and non-credit offerings and is available to other college curricula in related fields.

Facilities in the Sustainability Lab include an HVAC Simulator emulating a building’s entire heating and cooling system and allows for fault detection and correction; an Electrical Simulator for training on generators and motors; a Wind Turbine Simulator replicating the entire process from power generation through delivery to a consumer’s outlet; a Hydraulic System Simulator for instruction on the positioning systems of large scale wind turbines; an Electrical Wiring System Simulator which allows students to practice the interconnection required in the industrial setting; a Mechanical Systems Simulator demonstrating gearing and transmissions; and a Solar Array Simulator for learning the concepts of solar power, indoors. Outside the lab classroom are a photovoltaic array and small wind turbine, adjacent to the college’s Geothermal Pump House, Straw Bale Structure and Community Garden, forming a Sustainability Cluster.

“These trainers provide a new take on skills that have been around for a long time,” says le Roux. “We’re teaching foundational skills that have application in traditional careers and the growing “green collar” jobs. Her colleague, Wind Turbine Instructor Larry Reeger, adds, “Our goal is to see SUNY Sullivan become a model for how a sustainable campus can be operated and these trainers will give students the hands-on experience and practice they need to make that happen. ”

Division Chair, Mike Fisher, adds, “We’re training for now and the future. There are jobs within the State and, if the planned development happens in Sullivan County all these skills are applicable – electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, HVAC, will be in demand.”

Students completing Green Building and Wind Turbine programs will find themselves ready for careers in Sustainable Facilities Management, Green Building and Renewable Energy Consultation and Project Management, Energy & Indoor Air Quality Auditing, HVAC Operations and Maintenance, as Industrial Wind Farm or Residential Wind Turbine Technicians, Wind Turbine Specialists, positions in the related sales, and more.

For more information on the Sustainable SUNY Sullivan, visit the program’s web page at