Iowa Lakes Community College opens new green building for studies in energy, environment

Nick Fetty | September 2, 2014

The new Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies (SERT) building  on the Iowa Lakes Community College Esterville campus was not only built with the environment in mind but also aims to prepare students for careers in energy and environmental fields.

The 30,000-square foot facility opened its doors last week and nearly everything on the inside is built from recycled or repurposed materials. The building was originally purchased during a sheriff’s auction in 2010 and was initially used for vehicle storage. Renovation of the new facility began in May of 2013 which included adding an “energy-efficient geothermal and photovoltaic HVAC system.” The building also has solar panels that not only generate energy but also teach students how photovoltaic systems work.

SERT is equipped with classroom spaces and other resources for two-year degrees in Engineering Technology, Electrical Technology, HVAC, Water Quality and Sustainable Aquatic Resources, Environmental Studies as well as Wind Energy and Turbine Technology classes. The college currently has about 60 students preparing to be wind turbine technicians as the industry continues to grow, particularly in Iowa. WindTest, a company based out of Germany, will also test prototype wind turnbines within a 25-mile radius of the campus. The opening of the new facility marked the 10th year anniversary of the college’s wind energy program.

Iowa Lakes Community College enrolls more than 3,000 students and has campuses in  Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Spencer and Spirit Lake. The school opened its doors in 1966 and mostly serves students in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.

Central College becomes fourth Iowa school to join Alliance for Resilient Campuses

Nick Fetty | July 10, 2014
Central College Pond on the Central College campus in Pella, Iowa. Photo by Central College Alumni; Flickr
Central College Pond on the Central College campus in Pella, Iowa.
Photo by Central College Alumni; Flickr

Central College has become the most recent higher education institute in Iowa to join the Alliance for Resilient Campuses.

Central – a liberal arts college with 1,486 undergrads located in Pella, Iowa – is among 35 other colleges and universities across the nation that aim to “respond to the challenges of climate change and work to ensure greater community resilience.”

In 2003, the Vermeer Science Center at Central College became the first building on an Iowa campus to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The Alliance for Resilient Campuses is an initiative by Second Nature, a nonprofit Boston-based organization that aims “to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education.” The group was founded in 1993 and the Alliance for Resilient Campuses was started in May of this year.

Three other Iowa institutes are members of the Alliance for Resilient Campuses: Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Drake University in Des Moines, and Iowa Lakes Community College with campuses in Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Spencer and Spirit Lake.

German energy company to move North American headquarters to Iowa

Photo via Theodore Scott; Flickr
Photo via Theodore Scott; Flickr
Nick Fetty | May 29, 2014

Alternative energy opportunities available in Iowa have attracted yet another company to set up shop in the Hawkeye State, according to an article in the Des Moines Register.

Windtest – a German energy company – announced Wednesday that it plans to build its North American headquarters in the northern Iowa town of Estherville. The operation is expected to be completed by late August of this year and will initially create five jobs with hopes that the number will double in the coming years. This project will be in collaboration with Iowa Lakes Community College and will be housed in the Sustainable Energy Resource Technology building on campus.

Windtest is just the latest company to announce plans for an Iowa operation. Last year, Google announced that it plans to expand its data center in Council Bluffs while Facebook is pursuing plans to a construct a data center in the Des Moines suburb of Altoona. Microsoft also plans to build a data center in West Des Moines.

The abundance of wind power and other alternative energy sources have helped to attract these companies which will bring millions of dollars and dozens of jobs to Iowa’s economy. According to the American Wind Industry Association, Iowa is number one in the nation for percentage of electricity generated by wind energy (27.4%) and is third – behind Texas and California – in the amount of wind energy produced.