Energy Research Laboratory

at Hampden-Sydney College

Ground breaking for the new Energy Research Lab at Hampden-Sydney College, from the left: Dr. Dennis Stevens, Dean of the Faculty; Glenn Culley, VP for Business Affairs; Dr. Mike McDermott, Professor of Physics and Astronomy & Associate Dean of the Faculty; Dr. Stan Cheyne, Professor of Physics & Astronomy; Steven Huff, Chairman of the Pensmore Foundation; Dr. Paul Hemler, Professor of Mathematics & Computer Science.

Ground breaking for the new Energy Research Lab at Hampden-Sydney College, from the left: Dr. Dennis Stevens, Dean of the Faculty; Glenn Culley, VP for Business Affairs; Dr. Mike McDermott, Professor of Physics and Astronomy & Associate Dean of the Faculty; Dr. Stan Cheyne, Professor of Physics & Astronomy; Steven Huff, Chairman of the Pensmore Foundation; Dr. Paul Hemler, Professor of Mathematics & Computer Science.


With record-cold temperatures across the country in recent winters, increasing energy costs, and government restrictions on traditional energy sources, the need to find cost-effective and energy-efficient technologies for both homes and commercial buildings is helping to drive the evolution of building technologies.  The Pensmore Foundation has partnered with Hampden-Sydney College (HSC) in southern Virginia to establish the Energy Research Laboratory (ERL), a free-standing building constructed of advanced materials and technologies, for the purpose of collaborative research in the area of sustainable and small carbon footprint buildings.

Students and faculty in the HSC departments of Physics & Astronomy, and Mathematics & Computer Science will have an unusual opportunity to research energy monitoring, energy efficiency, and sustainable housing in this on-campus project funded by Pensmore Foundation.  This project's research focus will be concerned with determining the amount of conventional energy, if any, required to create a comfortable indoor environment, such as you would find in a home or an office building.

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The unique construction of the ERL building includes a traditional concrete mix fortified with patented twisted steel fibers or helices, yielding a much stronger, more durable, and longer lasting shell than with conventional concrete.  Buildings constructed in this manner may be able to withstand an F5 tornado, an adjacent explosive blast, or a massive earthquake.  Such building properties are very desirable for large structures, government and military facilities, schools, and hospitals that are to remain in service for many decades, in addition to uniquely durable private homes. 

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By virtue of their composition, the walls will also possesses exceptional ability to maintain relatively constant temperatures over extended periods of time.  Both solar and geothermal heating and cooling will be employed and tested, in order to assess the least level of energy necessary to maintain a comfortable interior climate, even in extreme seasonal conditions.