In 1979, the Indiana General Assembly authorized a $7.9 million

addition to Ball State University's R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) building. This project included a $1.5 million appropriation for an energy center, which the university intended to use for energy research, education, and service in the immediate community as well as statewide. In an open statewide design competition, the architectural firm of Crumlish, Sporleder and Associates of South Bend, Indiana, proposed the winning building design. Construction began in the summer of 1980 and was completed in August 1982.

Although the Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES) is physically attached to CAP, the university administers it separately. Since nearly all academic areas address issues related to energy and resources, faculty and students from all seven colleges of Ball State take part in CERES programs and projects and use the energy center's facilities and staff expertise. The interdisciplinary approach means that CERES can serve everyone from art to zoology as a demonstration, teaching, and research tool.

The completed facility is a showcase for, what was at the time of construction, state-of-the-art energy-conscious building technologies, including:

  • a 40-panel evacuated tube collector array for hot water, space heating, and demonstration cooling 
  • a trombe wall using concrete mass as a heat sink for delayed thermal use 
  • several direct gain spaces for passive solar heating of the building 
  • an all weather lab in which researchers can control the environment while monitoring their experiments from a separate lab 
  • a thermal chimney, covering a five-story atrium that can provide natural ventilation, shading, cooling, and heat storage