There was a “green” ribbon cutting late last week for a new building on the Iowa Lakes Community College campus in Estherville.

“Everything in this is as energy-efficient as we can make it,” says Dee Hiney, director of facilities management for the school.

College officials bought the building during a Sheriff’s sale in 2010. It was used for planning meetings for a while, then rehabilitated into a sort of working classroom for students.

“All of the mechnical was exposed and that is because the students that will be in this facility will be working with HVAC, they’ll be doing this type of work so we left everything exposed so they could see how it functions in this b uilding,” Hiney says. “We have a mechanical room that we lit up because it shows all the geothermal. It shows how the water flows into the building, through the building and out of the building.”

Last year, the college began offering a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning program. Students from five other programs will also take classes in the building, including Engineering, Electrical Technology and Environmental Studies.

There are solar panels on the south side of the building and that’s part of the teaching process, too.

“We call them photovoltaic or PV panels. When those are working and getting energy from the sun, they will actually power our roof-top unit,” Hiney says. “That will also be used as a lab for our H-VAC students.”

Hiney says the solar panels are also a cost-savings to the college, because they’ll provide electricity that won’t have to purchased from the traditional source.

Classes to be held in the building will also offer non-credit training for techs already in the field. The facility is just west of the Iowa Lakes Wind Building where classes are staged to teach the skills needed to build and maintain wind turbines.

(Reporting by Ryan Long, KICD, Spencer; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)