College Holds Earth Day- Related Events to Celebrate Sustainability, The Environment and The Official Opening of Its $31 Million Eco-Friendly Northeast Regional Center

PHILADELPHIA, February 18, 2011—As America gears up for Earth Day on April 22, Community College of Philadelphia will call attention to sustainability, renewable energy, science and the environment, when it officially opens its $31 million, eco-friendly, newly expanded and refurbished Northeast Regional Center (NERC)  from 10:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, at 12901 Townsend Road.

Federal, state and local officials, including Mayor Michael A. Nutter, will join College President Stephen M. Curtis for this landmark event. In addition, over the next two weeks, the College will hold a series of Earth Day-related events to highlight the new NERC and emphasize the importance of sustainability, green technology, renewable energy and science.

“The College is incredibly proud of what it has accomplished by melding the old with the new at the Northeast Regional Center, making the finished project much greater than the sum of its parts,” President Curtis said of the 120,000-square-foot facility. “The end product is not just bigger, it is better for students, and greener in ways that are better for the environment.”

Scheduled events include the following:

  • 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20 - Northeast Regional Center Grand Opening - Federal, state and local officials join President Curtis at the official opening of the College's $31 million, eco-friendly Northeast Regional Center, 12901 Townsend Road. Visitors also are welcome to visit the facility's new Center for Small Business Education, Growth and Training. Funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the business center offers free one-on-one counseling and technical assistance, affordable workshops, seminars, roundtable discussions and a variety of other assistance to small businesses. The business center’s first small business conference on May 19 will be sponsored by TD Bank.
  • 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 20 - Dual Admissions Signing Ceremony - Presidents and representatives from 11 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area will participate in a signing ceremony marking the addition of two new schools, Saint Joseph's University and Rosemont College, to the growing list of schools that have joined the College in allowing students to graduate from the College, then transfer credits seamlessly to a four-year institution. Guest Thomas G. Morr, president and CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia, will speak along with students, presidents and officials from some of the partner schools. The College’s nine other partners include Cheyney, Drexel, Eastern, Holy Family, La Salle and Temple universities, as well as Cabrini, Chestnut Hill and Peirce colleges.
  • 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Monday, April 25 - Philadelphia Science Festival Extravaganza in Partnership with The Franklin Institute - Featuring workshops, laboratory experiments and speakers, such as Jonathan D. Essoka of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III, who will speak at 9 a.m. on the topic of “Energy and Sustainability.” This event is part of the Philadelphia Science Festival—a citywide festival being held April 15-28. Other speakers include: Dr. Veda Giri of the Fox Chase Cancer Center speaking at 10:30 a.m. on “Genetic Markers/Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer”; a 12 noon discussion by College faculty on a “NOVA scienceNOW” television topic; and Dr. Carolyn Heckman of the Fox Chase Cancer Center speaking at 1 p.m. on “Skin Cancer Prevention.” (Note: Dr. Essoka will be participating in the Philadelphia Science Festival in his individual capacity, and not as a representative or employee of the U.S. EPA.)
  • 3:30 p.m., Monday, April 25 - Pathways Magazine launch - Join Peter Longstreth, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), and Katherine Gajewski, director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, as they unveil the latest issue of the College's Pathways magazine, which focuses on green technology and sustainability. Longstreth, Gajewski and John Grady, PIDC's executive vice president, are featured in the cover-story. Gajewski and Longstreth will speak at this invitation-only reception.
  • 9 a.m., Tuesday, April 26 - College for a Day (High School Recruitment) - Area high school students will tour the new NERC and learn about the College's educational programs.
  • 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26 - College for a Day (Adult Student Recruitment) - Philadelphia-area adult residents will be invited to tour the new NERC and learn about the College's educational and training programs.
  • 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 27 - Alumni “Delicious Developments” Reception - the College will host an invitation-only reception for alumni and supporters of the College that will feature regional wine, cheese and chocolate tasting and music performed by College students. There will be a display of student art and a brief overview and tour of the new NERC.
  • 8:30 a.m., Friday, April 29 - Grand Chamber Event - The College will host an invitation-only breakfast for chamber of commerce members from the Greater Philadelphia, Greater Northeast Philadelphia, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian American chambers. This event will showcase the new NERC and allow leaders from each chamber to speak about the services they offer to businesses in Greater Philadelphia.


The NERC, a former office building last remodeled in 1995, has been transformed into a cutting edge, eco-sensitive education and training facility where students witness sustainable design at work inside and outside the facility. A new 60,000-square-foot wing melds seamlessly with the existing structure that also has been extensively refurbished. The entire $31 million project is expected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The NERC expansion and redesign also provides state-of-the-art classrooms and technology rich space that boosts the Center’s enrollment capacity from 1,500 full-time students to 2,850 full-time students. It is the first of two green expansion projects at the College. The second is on the Main Campus, 1700 Spring Garden Street, and includes a new Pavilion building and renovations to the existing Bonnell, Mint and West buildings. The Pavilion, which will open this year, also is expected to receive LEED gold certification.

Funding for the College’s expansion projects comes from the state, the College’s first comprehensive campaign and College financing. Additional funding for the NERC came from the federal government. Both the NERC and the Main Campus projects use the latest in environmentally friendly and sustainable building materials and construction techniques. The NERC, with its expansive acreage, also allowed the College to dig a field of 220 geothermal wells – each 400 feet deep – to provide heating and cooling for the entire facility. This geothermal system was made possible by a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
In addition, the grounds conceal a storm water runoff and retention system that works with the new addition’s green roof to capture and filter storm water that is used for flushing in the facility. Two retention basins on the property can hold up to 300,000 gallons of storm runoff from the NERC and neighboring residential properties.

The College has long been committed to energy conservation and the principles of environmental sustainability as part of its overall mission to educate and prepare a Philadelphia workforce that can compete in a global economy. “These buildings serve as living laboratories where students can learn by their surroundings,” President Curtis said. “We’ve created state-of-the-art learning spaces that will help students become global citizens who really understand what sustainability means.”

By nearly doubling the NERC’s available space, the College is able to expand the course and program offerings available at the Townsend Road facility. For the first time, students in Northeast Philadelphia can earn associate degrees in Business Administration, Computer Forensics and Liberal Arts (Honors and Religious Studies) without having to take classes at the
Main Campus. Microbiology and Biotechnology courses also will be offered for the first time at the NERC. These classes were previously offered only at the Main Campus.

Also for the first time, the College will offer an associate’s degree for Occupational Therapy Assistant. The program will start in September 2013 and students will be able to complete their coursework at NERC. Much of the training will take place in a suite in the new wing that is designed to simulate a residential apartment. The special suite will serve as a laboratory for students to learn the techniques to help individuals to adapt to their living environment after a disabling injury, illness or stroke.

The building’s efficient use of renewable energy and water conservation also will benefit the College’s bottom line. “We approached this expansion with an eye toward what it will cost to maintain and operate these facilities over 50, 100, even 150 years,” President Curtis said.

In addition to its geothermal heat pump and well field to provide heating and cooling, the facility sports a green roof designed to capture and recycle storm water runoff for flushing, and expansive windows designed to make optimum use of daylight and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Also, classrooms are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology that can be controlled from smart podiums. The airy student commons includes an enlarged bookstore, cafeteria, library, study areas and public meeting spaces. All of these features are designed to enhance the student learning experience.

The American Association of Community Colleges encourages its member institutions to make sustainable practices the norm. The movement is gathering steam with U.S. community colleges accounting for almost 3.7 million LEED certified square feet out of a total of 30 million square feet nationwide, according to the USGBC.