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State

U of I constructing net-zero energy building

URBANA – A new building going up at the University of Illinois is reaching for new environmental heights.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Building has been designed to be a net-zero energy use structure. The $95 million building is under construction on the Urbana-Champaign campus. It will have 1,200 roof solar panels, low-energy lights and other environmentally friendly features.

“We’re trying to show that, in some sense, anybody can do this,” engineering professor Phil Krein told The (Champaign) News-Gazette.

Plans for the building have been in the making for 40 years. The project is funded with state and private money. Construction started in January 2012. It should open in the summer for classes next fall.

The 230,000-square-foot building will be almost double the size of the department’s old headquarters. The department has 120 faculty members and nearly 2,500 students.

The building also was designed with extra-wide hallways and staircases so more students can move around more quickly.

Bill Sanders, interim head of the department, told the newspaper that saving energy is important but so is showcasing the department’s innovation.

“Not only is it a really beautiful building, but it’s a building that’s sort of allowed us to live what we really believe,” Sanders said.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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