Katie Dunn prepares roast pork for an Asian noodle dish that was on the noon menu at the CMC Alpine Campus dining hall on Friday. College officials hope to break ground by 2012 on a new building that would include expanded dining facilities.

Photo by Tom Ross

Katie Dunn prepares roast pork for an Asian noodle dish that was on the noon menu at the CMC Alpine Campus dining hall on Friday. College officials hope to break ground by 2012 on a new building that would include expanded dining facilities.

CMC hopes to become international hub for geoexchange


If you go

What: CMC Alpine Campus open house introducing potential sites for new 40,000-square-foot building

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. in Steamboat Springs

— Colorado Mountain College officials hope a new 40,000-square-foot building on the Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs would establish the school as an international learning center for a form of renewable energy known as geoexchange. The school will hold an open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Centennial Hall to introduce potential sites for the new building.

A very efficient form of energy gain, geoexchange relies on the nearly constant heat of the soil to warm buildings in winter and cool them in summer through the use of heat pumps.

"We hope to be a leader in geoexchange in the state as well as having an international presence and setting an example for Steamboat," Alpine Campus CEO Peter Perhac said last week.

The plan is to heat and cool the new building through geoexchange and build the mechanical plant large enough to allow professors to bring their students into the space for practical study. In addition, the existing Bristol Hall would be retrofitted with geoexchange systems, allowing students to have hands-on experience with that process. The Alpine Campus also is building a relationship with the Colorado School of Mines for that purpose.

Much of the geoexchange vision hinges on a $5 million grant request that has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy. The outcome could be known as soon as December.

Perhac will be joined by CMC President Dr. Stan Jensen, CMC's executive vice president of college initiatives and innovations Nancy Genova, and Steamboat architect Cyd Pougiales, of Thira Inc., in the public open house Wednesday night at Centennial Hall. Perhac said the focus of the meeting is to introduce three alternative sites for the building and invite public response.

The actual design of the $10 million to $12 million building is well in the future. Groundbreaking could come in 2012, and the wish list of facilities to be included in the building has yet to be refined. However, the possibilities are too intriguing to ignore.

The new building likely would replace three existing octagonal campus buildings that have been converted from their original use as dormitories to classrooms, the dining hall, offices and even the campus bookstore. Some or all of them potentially could be demolished, Perhac said.

The new building could include administrative offices, student services and affairs offices, a lobby hub, a bookstore and cyber cafe, a dining room, an assembly hall auditorium and classrooms for ski business, outdoors studies, resort management, sustainability, art, early childhood development, emergency medical training, wellness and martial arts.

The hope is to also use the new building to make the Alpine Campus more accessible and easier to navigate for residents visiting the campus for ongoing education classes, Perhac said.

"Pottery is a big draw, and we don't have a kiln," Perhac said. "The art department also needs a fume hood. We could offer more classes if we had (those facilities). The ski business program really needs new labs. And some form of performance facility is also on the wish list."

One of the justifications for the federal grant request, Perhac said, is to provide the government with data that could be used to provide reliable information for establishing the return on investment consumers could expect to derive from geoexchange technology.

CMC is working "side by side" on its plans with the Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office, Perhac said, and representatives of the city of Steamboat Springs sit on the design committee.

But the alternative energy measures at the new building would go beyond geoexchange, Perhac said. The building would be built to some level of LEED certification and would be equipped with solar panels.

The Alpine Campus already has a pre-engineering program in place that is meant to help students transition into four-year programs. The school has begun beefing up its math curriculum, he added.

Perhac envisions that alternative energy experts from across the country and around the world will gather in Steamboat Springs to attend summer symposia of several weeks on the Alpine Campus.

"I think it would put us on the map," he said.


Bob Kois 7 years, 7 months ago

CMC, Great job.
My daughter, who graduated there in business, has used the outstanding "personal teaching" and business degree she earned there to be tops in her industry. All credits transferred and she has her BS in Business.

Your engineering program has supplied local young people an excellent foundation to become some of my best engineering students at CU in Boulder.

I know many local business people who attribute their success to your excellent success in the Resort and Hospitality Business Program.

Alternative Energy seems like the logical next step in building the local and global community. Again, great job.


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