The Iowa Lakes Community College S.E.R.T. (Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies) building dedicated this Thursday is an exemplary example of what's going on inside - developing the energy technology technicians of the future.
While the college will train future employees in the water quality and HVAC industries, there's more going on here. The S.E.R.T. facility will also do industry training certification and serve as home to WindTest which will test wind turbines to be built within a 25-mile radius of Estherville by manufacturers from around the world.
According to information provided at the S.E.R.T. ribbon cutting Thursday, the building also saves energy in a number of ways:
n "In floor" heat provides constant floor temperature.
n Geothermal pumps.
n A photovoltaic system to run the roof top units.
n Thermal pane windows to use as much natural daylight as possible.
n A sunshade on the east side of the facility, filtering 60 percent of direct sunlight.
n Occupancy sensors to reduce energy use.
n Post-consumer recycled products used in building construction.
n Hydration stations to encourage students and staff to use reusable water bottles. A digital display shows how many bottles were saved.
n Extra insulation added to maintain comfort levels.
n Ceiling solatubes that amplify sunlight to reduce artificial lighting in the main area.
n Fans to push warm air to floor level.
n Materials from the previous facility were recycled to reduce landfill volume.
While remarkable in itself and one of a few facilities of its kind in the world, the S.E.R.T. building is but a tiny seed of the enormous economic potential it has for Estherville and our region.
We should all laud the Iowa Lakes Community College Board of Trustees; Dan Lutat, director of the Wind Energy & Turbine Technology and Sustainable Energy Resources program; and college administration for their vision in making their vision our community's reality.