Green Guide

Fort Totten completes energy efficient school building

Posted September 9

— The first thing you notice when you step into the new career technology education facility at Four Winds in Fort Totten is the light from all the windows and skylights.

Then you notice how comfortable the temperature is.

On Tuesday, Aug. 29 workers were still making adjustments and helping Superintendent Jeff Olson and his staff learn how to monitor the building's controls.

The Fort Totten Public School construction of an energy-efficient, state-of-the-art building is complete — mostly.

Classes have already begun in the building and teachers are getting their classrooms and offices organized.

ReNa Lohnes, who sits on the board that governs the facility, was visiting with some of the teachers on Aug. 29.

"We are so proud of our new school," she told the Devils Lake Journal . She serves on the school's board with Justin Yankton, Douglas Yankton, Vern Lambert and Lynette Lovejoy.

Business Manager Walt Hollifield was equally enthusiastic about the new building pointing out its money saving features, like lights that automatically turn themselves off if no one is in the building.

Math and robotics teachers Mr. Chiang, business and office education teacher Ms. Anderson, social studies teacher Mr. Brusven and English teacher Mrs. Lind were also enthusiastic about the nice, new building and all it provides for their students.

One educator pointed out the skylights that featured diffused lighting that can be controlled by a switch on the wall, no need for the electric lights to even be turned on most days. Another teacher pointed out although it was quite warm outside, the temperature in the room was comfortable because of the geo-thermal cooling system, a non-traditional air conditioning system.

The new career technology education facility is located adjacent to the Four Winds Community School on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It will expand the educational experience that students have by offering alternative programs. It includes classrooms, lab space for six teachers, bathrooms, storage areas, and offices. It also includes room for expansion as they have added a space that could easily be used to attach an addition to the building, when funding becomes available.

The walls are supported by steel beams, not wood, and made up of sturdy Styrofoam forms with a poured foam interior that hardens like concrete. A section of the wall in the entranceway is left exposed and visible behind tempered glass to show how the walls of the school were constructed.

The net-zero school will produce more energy than it consumes every year. There are other net-zero schools in the United States, but this new school is the first on tribal land and the first anywhere in North Dakota.

The features of the building that contribute to attaining net-zero status include: photovoltaic (solar) panels, a ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system, high-efficiency water-to-air heat pumps, energy recovery system for free heating and cooling, variable-speed fans and pumps to minimize excess energy use, occupancy sensors for demand-based lighting, LED lighting, solar tubes for free lighting, specially insulated walls and roof, and triple pane windows.

DSGW is the architect for this project, Obermiller Nelson Engineering is responsible for mechanical and electrical engineering, and Shingobee Builders is the construction manager.

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