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Second Tech Park building to be renovated

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park say renovations planned for one of its buildings will increase energy efficiency and lower its operational costs.

Renovations of the 139,000-square-foot Building 770, which has four floors of laboratory and office space, will begin no later than Feb. 1, said Phil Halstead, executive director of the Tech Park, in South Charleston.

As it is, Building 770's energy costs make it too expensive to rent, said Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, which oversees the park. The building is vacant.

"The rental fee would have to be so high as to not be competitive," Hill said. "So the decision was made to make it competitive and [comply] with state and federal requirements."

Electricity makes up about one-third of the operating costs of all the buildings at the Tech Park, Hill said.

Building 770 will be the second of three buildings in the park to be renovated. Building 2000 -- where the Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College recently relocated -- is half done.

After Building 770's renovations, Building 740 will be updated. The renovations have been planned since shortly after the Higher Education Policy Commission acquired the 258-acre park through a donation of land and facilities from Dow Chemical. A November 2010 study by analysts Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and CH2M Hill recommended the changes.

Officials are looking for ways to fund the renovations of Building 770.

The policy commission has secured $10.5 million. Of that amount, $5.25 million is coming from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and will be matched with $5.25 million from the state. The renovations will cost about $35 million in all, Halstead said.

"We have not established [where the funding will come from] but we are looking at various mechanisms for funding," Hill said.

He added that the sale of bonds is one possibility.

Morgantown-based architecture firm Alpha is designing the renovations. The design work should be done by the end of October, when they'll be reviewed by state agencies, Alpha Vice President Jim Davison said. The project should be bid out to a contractor around the first of the year, he said.

When completed, Building 770 will feature a new glass exterior that will match Building 2000, Davison said. The insulated glass will help with energy efficiency, but changes to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will do the most to increase efficiency, Davison said.

When renovations are done, the building's HVAC system will have a heat recovery system that will help with energy costs, Davison said.

"The system captures the energy of the air through these heat recovery wheels and puts it back into the system that reheats the building," he said.

HDR, a firm in Bethesda, Md., will provide the mechanical and structural design for the HVAC system, Davison said.

The renovations also will bring the building into compliance with the American Disabilities Act, as well as current fire and safety codes.

"Fire codes and life safety codes have changed since the building was built," Davison said.

Building 770 was built in the late 1950s.

Hill hopes to have construction completed on Building 770 sometime in 2013.

"There are more than 550 employees now in the park," he said. "So you can see, even with some of the space still vacant, there are a number of employees. We hope to add to that. We can potentially double that with these new buildings coming online."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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