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Center for Sustainable Energy and Education Announced by Aquinas and Metro

September 1, 2004 - Metropolitan Hospital and Aquinas College announced today that they will jointly operate an energy and education center at Metro Health Village in Wyoming. The Center for Sustainable Energy and Education (CSEE) will produce electricity for Metropolitan Hospital and serve as a real life-learning lab for students in the Sustainable Business Program at Aquinas.

The Aquinas/Metro joint venture is a non-profit organization; it will oversee the energy and education center and be dedicated to demonstrating and teaching the full range of energy efficient business practices. The vision is to propel Metro Health Village as a national leader in environmentally responsible business practices and enable Aquinas College to further its nationwide leadership in teaching those practices.

"Our collaboration with Aquinas College at the CSEE will enable Metro to re-evaluate the way it conducts business," said Mike Faas, president and CEO of Metropolitan Hospital. "Our business practices will move towards a model of sustainability, which is a process looking to balance fiscal responsibility while maintaining a commitment to the environment. The center connects to Metro's core purpose of providing health care in several ways. It will allow us to reduce operating costs and therefore contribute to our commitment to the community to reduce the cost of health care as a result of our relocation. It will also make our community a healthier place to live by reducing pollution and the use of limited natural resources."

The CSEE will be a 45,000-square foot facility on the eastern edge of the health village. It will serve as a site for classes offered by the Aquinas College Sustainable Business Program. At the same time it will house the hospital's energy production and management activities, which will rely on advanced systems that greatly reduce environmental impact. Locating the activities of the college and the hospital together will create an ideal setting for teaching and advocating sustainable business practices.

The Aquinas College Sustainable Business Program, the first degree of its kind in the nation, will also benefit from the research and education opportunities made possible by the joint venture.

"This partnership will allow Aquinas faculty and students to showcase advanced technology, practices and innovations that demonstrate how communities can survive and even thrive with lower energy consumption," said Dr. Harry Knopke, president of Aquinas College. "They will learn how power can be produced in a sustainable way and will see businesses come to life without harmful environmental effects."

Forging together in a quest to honor the environment, the organization has defined its purpose in seven main categories:
Improve and increase energy efficiency, quality and reliability of electric supply to the hospital campus
Reduce the impact of the hospital's operation and energy use on the environment
Quantify and promote the benefits of green building design
Further develop and expand the Aquinas College Sustainable Business Program
Develop and promote renewable energy technologies that will reverse America's dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Demonstrate and promote alternatives to harmful building materials such as polyvinylchloride (PVC), lead, formaldehyde and mercury
Showcase advanced technologies, practices and innovations that demonstrate how communities can reduce energy demands, produce power in an environmentally sustainable way and build and operate businesses with reduced environmental impact

The enterprise is seeking a mix of conventional financing, private grants and philanthropic contributions, the first of which was announced today. NOVI Energy, Metropolitan Hospital's energy manager and a Michigan-based energy consultant, has been selected for a $2.75 million contract award to benefit the CSEE. A total of 41 organizations applied for funds to enhance energy research through the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The CSEE, which was one of only three projects funded, received the largest award.

Some of the activities planned for the CSEE are so unique that governmental agencies do not have regulations in place to oversee them. Therefore, a state regulatory advisory group is being formed with membership from more than a half dozen local and state agencies to develop future guidelines. Specifically, the group will focus on the composting of organic waste, and the capture and use of rainwater.

Phase I will include construction of the central utility plant, which will provide thermal and electric power to the hospital and educational opportunities to Aquinas' sustainable business students. This phase is slated for completion in late 2005. Phase II will incorporate visionary renewable energy technologies, sustainable design features such as a 200-seat auditorium and two multi-purpose classrooms, and will promote the further development of the Aquinas Sustainable Business Program.

It is anticipated the CSEE will receive the U.S. Green Building Council's highest level of certification, LEED NC 2.1 Platinum. No other energy center in the world has achieved this designation.