The University of North Carolina at Charlotte marked another milestone on Friday, Nov. 16, with the dedication of the new Energy Production and Infrastructure Center building.
Located on the Charlotte Research Institute campus, EPIC features classrooms, lecture halls, conference rooms, Smart Grid facilities and offices and labs for electrical, civil, environmental and computer engineering programs. EPIC grew out of a novel collaboration between the University, leading energy companies and the State of North Carolina to help educate and train the next generation of energy engineers that can help make Charlotte the nation’s energy capital; a key aspect of the facility is its resources for research and partnerships with businesses and energy research organizations. EPIC opened this fall and houses the civil and environmental engineering and electrical and computer engineering departments of the William States Lee College of Engineering.
About 300 visitors were treated to a demonstration of the facility’s High Bay Lab, one of the five largest of its kind in the country that will serve as a site for large-scale structural design and testing.
"For example, it can test the stability of power transmission towers, emulating hurricane-strength wind conditions, as well as earthquake shaking conditions," Chancellor Philip L. Dubois told the audience, which included faculty, students and energy industry leaders.
A LEED Gold certified building, EPIC also contains a high-tech cooling system, a rain collection system and precise window locations and treatments that are among the energy-reducing technologies embodied within the 200,000-square-foot facility.
The ceremony featured also remarks by Dhiaa Jamil, a UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees member and the chairman of the EPIC Advisory Board, and Gene Johnson, chairman of the Board of Trustees. Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dubois unveiled the EPIC building by demonstrating some of its high-tech features, including the facility’s earthquake simulation system and a laser-operated robot.
Designed by Creech & Associates and built by Turner Construction at a cost of $76 million, EPIC has a number of other features:
- The main atrium, which opens up to aesthetically pleasing rotunda.
- The Duke Energy Smart Grid Laboratory, which houses equipment designed to test and run a wide range of model validation and real-time simulations.
- The environmental lab suite that will provide students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research.
- The basement floor, which contains two of the building’s large lecture halls with a combined capacity to conduct classes for more than 500 students, and space where the University’s Solar Decathlon house will be built.