Cape Breton University officially opened the $31.7 million Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment today with messages of optimism from both the public and private sectors.
When funding was announced in 2009, CBU envisioned a facility to demonstrate appreciation and reverence for the natural Cape Breton environment and its unique cultural and industrial legacy as well as create opportunities in the field of energy and sustainability based on the search for solutions through research and partnerships with business, government and the broader community. The vision for implementation has always been global and with the expertise of the recently established CSEE Advisory Board, CBU will see their extensive industry knowledge advance the dialogue needed on important sustainability issues.
“This investment created jobs for people in Sydney at a critical time, while improving the infrastructure that Cape Breton University needs to maintain its reputation as an innovative leader,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Whether it is a federally financed shipbuilding program that was won on merit by the shipbuilders of Nova Scotia or our government’s support for the knowledge economy, the Government of Canada knows that we are making the necessary investments to ensure Nova Scotia's future prosperity.”
The construction of the new Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment is made possible due to the generous support of nearly $15.03 million from the Government of Canada through its Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP), the Nova Scotia government, Cape Breton University and private investors. R&D and commercialization programming at the Centre received another $16.65 million from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, the province of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton University and private donors.
Interdisciplinary research and development combined with training opportunities, collaboration and the transfer of knowledge will contribute to local and regional prosperity through the attraction of highly qualified personnel, in addition to inspiring students destined to generate economic growth and become the leaders and managers of a sustainable future. Solutions are imminent with CSEE’s emphasis on excellence and continuous improvement. "Nova Scotia – specifically, Cape Breton – is becoming a centre of excellence for developing clean, renewable energy and for restoring industrial sites to their earlier pristine states," said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. "The world is turning to Nova Scotia to learn how to build ships, how to live green, and how to prosper in today's economy, thanks to the leadership of outstanding citizens like Annette Verschuren."
“At the time we set out on this journey, I advocated that CBU have a gateway building that would speak to our unique capacity to support related social, environmental, economic and educational objectives through the establishment of CSEE. Today I could not be prouder of this outstanding facility, a testament to a wonderful spirit of partnership between the Federal and Provincial governments and CBU,” stated President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. John Harker.
With its green design, solar panels, geothermal system and wind turbines, combined with efficiencies built into every aspect of the Centre’s design, the CSEE is considered highly efficient realizing an estimated 50 per cent decrease in consumption compared to similar buildings. The 35,000 square foot space houses modern, sustainable lab facilities, collaborative work areas, a 144 seat lecture theatre and areas for Research Chairs to conduct their projects in ideal development circumstances.
Today, Tom Digan, President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Canada, reinforced support for CBU through their commitment to the Hybrid Willow Demonstration Project, Lockheed Martin Educational Tools, and the Lockheed Martin Chair in Renewable Energy. Mr. Digan stated that “Lockheed Martin is pleased to be expanding our relationship with the Cape Breton University by becoming the first Chair in Renewable Energy at the Center for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. Nova Scotia offers great potential for technology development across a variety of solutions, and the CSEE demonstrates a commitment to pursuing these advancements.”
CBU Board Chair Norma Boyd announced that the Centre will be named in recognition of Annette Verschuren. Ms. Verschuren championed the project from early days and her message of “Imagine the Possibilities” resonated with all levels of government and corporate Canada. “Annette clearly demonstrated her commitment to, and belief in, the value of a research and education centre that could turn Cape Breton’s liabilities into opportunities. Moreover, these opportunities will deliver economic advantages. Annette ‘s career has been dedicated to investing in people, best practices and technology, all of which CBU will continue to honour with the outstanding work we anticipate will unfold in the Centre that now bears her name.”
Formalities concluded with President Harker, Minister MacKay and Premier Dexter cutting a ceremonial ribbon reflecting the colours of Cape Breton University and Cape Breton Island immortalized in Lillian Crewe Walsh’s poetry.