Crop Research & Bioenergy Building

Lakeland’s Bio-Energy Centre is a 2400 square foot main building includes an attached 360 square foot solarium/greenhouse. The main building incorporates space for a dedicated lab, a large open multi-use space, a mechanical room, and a mezzanine area that can accommodate future office development. The open area can accommodate larger equipment and provides workspace for modifying or repairing equipment, and the building itself provides an opportunity to evaluate heating alternatives and potential for heat storage. The solarium area is constructed using passive solar greenhouse technology to provide three-season growing capability without additional heat. The greenhouse also acts as a solar thermal collector, providing a source of heat that can be transferred to the main building area.
Renewable Energy Learning Centre
Lakeland's Research Centre includes the Renewable Energy Learning Centre (RELC), a net-zero energy target building incorporating multiple combined renewable energy generation systems.

Inside the Renewable Energy Learning Centre (RELC) is a conference area that includes a smart-classroom, cooking facilities, indoor sun room, and outdoor deck area. The RELC provides a great venue for small conferences, meetings, or educational activities. Book your next meeting in this net-zero energy facility!

The centre's energy sources include 13 kW of solar voltaic arrays, four solar thermal flat-panel collectors for domestic hot water and building heat, and a unique geothermal heating system. Multiple system integration is a major theme of the research and the programmable logic controller (PLC) on site allows the building's systems to be easily reconfigured for different experiments involving any of the renewable energy sources.
Renewable Energy Cabin
Located at the Research Centre, the Renewable Energy Cabin is an on-line laboratory for students in our Renewable Energy and Conservation Program. The on-line students have access to this practical hands-on lab via the internet.

The Energy Cabin operates completely off-grid and has 1.75 kW of solar photovoltaic panels, about 2000 W of solar evacuated hot water collectors, and a solar hot air recirculation collector on the south wall. The solar thermal heat is used to supplement space heating in the building using hot water and hot air collectors.

Once the physical structure of the energy cabin was built, researchers developed a custom-built data acquisition system to provide real-time information on a live website that can be accessed by renewable energy students and the public. Instant readings of weather conditions, energy systems performance, building heat loss, and energy consumption are all available at the click of a button. Website:

Data collected over many seasons and years can be used to perform an economic analysis of the system. The system was designed to be flexible and allow reconfiguration for future applied research projects.

Web information on the Renewable Energy Cabin is available to support student activities as well as provide Lakeland researchers with valuable information about the viability of using renewable technologies at Vermilion’s geographic location. It is also available to the public in a format that is easy to use.

Rob Baron, instructor in the renewable energy program, says, “While anyone can access the information, and see the changes in energy production between sunny and cloudy days, for example, my students can also use the data for deeper studies, comparing outputs to product claims in the renewable energy industry.” Students can test the behavior of the equipment in real-life situations and determine ways to improve efficiency.

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