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KRCC's big plan 

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Even today, the idea of going "off the grid" has an ethereal ring to it.

But by the end of next year, Colorado College-owned radio station KRCC aims to be off the grid or at least using solar panels to power a new eco-friendly building while still broadcasting to thousands of local listeners.

Delaney Utterback, general manager for the National Public Radio affiliate, says the plan is to move beyond token overtures toward serious sustainability.

"I want it to be something that really works," he says.

Though plans for the "earth station" are in their early stages, the building will likely be recessed into the hillside on already-donated property just east of the intersection of Uintah Street and Mesa Road. The hope is to move by late 2009 into a building that could end up looking like an "earthship" or could take a more conventional design.

The building should be tied to the city's electricity grid to bank excess energy, but KRCC hopes to produce enough power on-site to cover all of the station's lighting, computing and other electrical needs, says Bob Kerwin, the college's director of communications.

The building's design, south-facing orientation and a heat-pump all will help with efficient temperature regulation. As for day-to-day practicality, the station would welcome sound-proof recording studios, a space to host bands and greater comfort than the current building on Weber Street, which Utterback says leaks heat "like a sieve."

Though other NPR stations have taken steps toward sustainability, Kerwin says, the hope is for KRCC to be a national leader by cutting its carbon footprint to almost nothing.

Anthony Lane

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