Hittin' the road - Episode 5: Yallah

Just when I was thinking the Campus' environmental credentials couldn't get any better, I was introduced to a cool little mud brick shack that also doubles as a classroom

When it comes to sustainable building and green energy, Yallah TAFE is about as good as it gets. The facilities here have a Green Star rating of five. Just to provide some context, the international standard for best in class is six stars. And with excellence comes recognition.

Take the Transformational Technical Training Building (wisely abbreviated to the TTT building to those in the know). Its construction was a joint effort between TAFE Illawarra and the University of Wollongong. The building is just incredible! It's like a living, breathing organism, designed to fully control its own environment through automated window opening and closing, air conditioning temperature regulation, motion detection lights and a raft of other features.

Of course, having one of the best green energy buildings in the world would be a wasted opportunity if the inner workings were not exposed for students to see and study. Viewing windows have been installed into the rooms housing all plant and equipment, so students can get an idea of how it all works. This building ticks all the right boxes.

Before the encroach of creeping urbanisation, the original landscape of Yallah was bushland. Most of this has been cleared now, except for a small five hectare pocket which is now classified by the National Parks & Wildlife Service as endangered. Thus, the Yallah Woodland is a protected environment. How convenient that Diploma of Conservation and Land Management students have access to this woodland for study purposes. Right on the Yallah TAFE Campus! Winning!

Just when I was thinking the Campus' environmental credentials couldn't get any better, I was introduced to a cool little mud brick shack that also doubles as a classroom. It has an energy efficient design and is totally green in its structure, using recycled timber, polished concrete floor, and a north facing aspect to maximise heating in the winter. Right next door to this are the low height "training" roofs (colorbond and tile) where trainee and qualified electricians get true hands-on experience installing solar panels. For the record, installing solar panels is definitely not something that should be on your DIY list. If you want to have solar panels installed, make sure your sparkie carries the correct qualifications.

Of course, in a place like Yallah TAFE, you can't go without a few chooks. The feathered girls earn their keep by turning over the garden mulch in search of their favourite grubs, thus keeping the soil healthy and thriving. We hear the eggs are pretty good too. B'kerk!

I was even allowed to sit in on a special lesson on how to desensitise a horse to touch. This was a special lesson for Certificate II in Animal Studies students who watched Dixie (the horse) being trained by handler Phillipa. This is definitely the kind of lesson that you just can't experience in a classroom with a chalkboard. Highly impressed with the facilities at Yallah TAFE. Thanks for having us!

Next stop: Wollongong and West Wollongong.