New SERC Building

New SERC Building Architectural Drawing

A rendering of the new SERC building.

This fall, we’ve taken two critical initial steps toward building a new facility for SERC on the Humboldt State University campus. The construction money we’ll need has been set aside by our foundation and the preliminary engineering site work has been completed.

The new facility will be built on a picturesque hillside site just west of the new Behavioral and Social Sciences building and north of the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. The building will house laboratory space, a machine shop, faculty and staff offices, and a library/conference room in approximately 4,000 net square feet. It will replace our present home, which is severely space limited and located in a 60 year old building that has seen better days.

The first critical step took place at the November 28th meeting of the Humboldt State University Advancement Foundation’s Finance Committee, where the committee approved the release of $2.1 million for the construction of a new laboratory and office facility for SERC. The money will be drawn from a fund created by the late Dr. Louis W. Schatz, who provided the original financial support for SERC’s establishment and left additional funds for SERC in his estate.

In his will, Dr. Schatz stipulated these funds be used for the advancement of hydrogen and renewable energy.

All of us at SERC are pleased with the Foundation’s decision and excited at the prospect of building a new home. The new, larger facility will give us the space we need and, best of all, help us get more students involved in our work. We’ll be better equipped to carry out our mission to develop hydrogen, solar, and other clean energy technologies.

In the second step, a preliminary geologic study and a survey of the construction site were conducted by SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Inc. SHN prepared a detailed topographic map of the area reserved for the new building, supervised five exploratory, 35-foot deep borings (see photo of drilling rig, below), and reviewed geological records for the area. They identified the top of the hill as the most desirable construction site and reported that it was free of significant geological hazards. In other words and happily for us, there are no show stoppers.

We expect to break ground on the project by the summer of 2008. If all goes well, the building will be ready for occupancy by fall 2009, when SERC will vacate its present home in the former University Annex. We’ll keep you apprised of our progress in future issues.