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State budget includes funds for SCCC Renewable Energy-STEM building

After a bureaucratic foul-up last year, New York's new budget includes funding for Suffolk County Community College to build a new $19.5 million, state-of-the-art Renewable Energy-STEM building on the Brentwood campus, college officials said Wednesday.

The state budget includes $9.75 million, the 50 percent state share for construction, which will permit the innovative project to move forward. The county has already appropriated $900,000 to design the building and college officials hope to break ground late this year or early next year. They say the project could create as many as 200 construction jobs.

Money was originally supposed to be allocated in Albany at the end of session rush in June 2014. But the Suffolk project, along with a number of others at community colleges across the state, was left out by mistake and there was not enough time to restore the funding.

The STEM center -- an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math -- will be a 33,800-square-foot building, and includes plans for classroom labs, an organic roof, solar panels, a windmill and a prototype solar home outside. Plans call for a building to produce enough solar, wind and geothermal energy to make it self-sustaining.

"We're preparing our students to be the next generation to provide renewable energy and move away from fossil fuel to create a more sustainable Long Island," said Shaun McKay, college president. He said the program has been expanded to include cyber security and energy management to help businesses protect and make efficient use of their resources.

The project will also include 7,500 square feet of space for an incubator -- in conjunction with Stony Brook University -- to train students to work in newly created renewable technology businesses to spur economic development.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) who championed the project as chair of the higher education committee, said the STEM center will create a new synergy between the community college, which can supply technicians, and local universities that do groundbreaking research. "This will pave the way for the college to build relationships and programs with Stony Brook and other schools that they have never had before," he said.

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