Soaking Up Solar

This week we fired up the new solar panels for the first time. Under the clear February sun, electrons jumped right into action, creating almost 40 kW of electricity for the new Margaret A. Cargill Lodge. This is a big step toward our goal to make the MAC Lodge net-positive for energy, and towards meeting the Living Building Challenge requirement that all electricity in the dorm be made from renewable energy. Flipping a switch to turn on the solar was a simple move; behind that action is a trail of decisions and lots of planning. Each new solar installation presents unique challenges to consider. How much power is needed? Where will the panels be located so they can gather the most energy? What path will the created electricity follow as it travels from the panels to, for example, the light in the dining room? What system design and components are most efficient? Which will have the smallest impact on ecosystems? Here in northern Minnesota, studies show that reliable renewable power systems incorporate a variety of strategies. The best plans begin by examining ways to reduce the demand for electricity. A smaller system will cost less right off the bat. In the case of MAC Lodge, architects incorporated daylighting through window locations with the strategic placement of solar light tubes to bring sunlight into the interior hallways and larger group spaces. When purchasing appliances like washers, driers, and refrigerators, we chose those with the best energy ratings. Next, we made the decision to enlist the help of every student living in [...]

Vendor Spotlight: Lloyd’s Construction Services

Taking a Ship Out of the Bottle When most people hear the word “demolition”, images of sledgehammers and front loaders are usually what come to mind. The abundance and popularity of home renovation television shows has made this phase of remodeling appear almost fun and fairly straightforward. However, in the case of a Living Building Challenge (LBC) where recycling and reusing existing materials is as important as the building materials selected, demolition quickly becomes thoughtful, meticulous deconstruction. In the case of Lloyd’s Construction Services, a third generation Minnesota company, this challenge is exactly what they had been preparing for over their 35-year history. John Lloyd founded the business with his father when he was only 17 years old and with nothing but $500 in savings and a 1952 GMC truck. Lloyd has described the demolition side of his business as “taking a ship out of the bottle”. Much of their business has always focused on salvage, reuse and recycling, but never have these words been more applicable than during the careful deconstruction of the old West Dorm for the renovation into the new Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. An ambitious 17 year old and his 52 GMC truck Before approaching Lloyd’s Construction Services, Pete Smerud (executive director of Wolf Ridge ELC) had already been told by three contractors that the LBC requirements of his renovation plans couldn’t be met. In a Living Building Challenge when demolition and renovation of an existing structure is a part of the project, the burden placed on the demolition [...]

Vendor Spotlight: Hearth & Home Technologies

Staff cozy up to the donated stove in the Lakeview House This donation to the MAC lodge really warmed our hearts On this chilly winter day in Minnesota, here's a little warmer-upper. This week we fired up the new fireplace inserts in the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge for the first time. The warm glow was seen and felt throughout the new day-rooms from these super-efficient pellet-burning wood stove inserts. There is a heart-warming human twist to this story. It all starts on a school bus. About a year ago, Chad Hendrickson chaperoned his child’s 5th grade school trip to Wolf Ridge. He and naturalist Peter Harris got to chatting while the students ran experiments in “Energy in My Home” class. Chad was inspired by Wolf Ridge’s goal to make its new MAC Lodge the first to be fully certified by Living Building Challenge in the northern United States. This weeks test burn in the MAC lodge sets off a warm glow Chad, an employee at Hearth & Home Technologies, saw an opportunity to help us attain that goal. Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) makes a wide variety of woodstoves, including the very type of high efficiency biomass burners we were in search of. He took our need back to his coworkers, who agreed that a donation of one new stove to Wolf Ridge would be a great fit for their corporate giving values. HHT, which is based in Lakeville, Minnesota, arranged for one of their dealer partners, Fireplace Corner of Duluth, to deliver the donated Harman stove. Why Pellet [...]

Mother and Daughter Start a Great Family Tradition at Wolf Ridge!

Best part of the week, besides sharing this time together? No hesitation on Katie's part -- "the ropes course!" The story has an interesting twist. Katie's mom, Meggin, was one of the first kids to sleep in the then-new West Dorm as a 6th grader back in 1988. This year, they are among the first to stay in the remodeled version of that same dorm, now called the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge. The best part of my day? Watching them tell the story of their adventures together! International Spanish Language Academy Donate to Wolf Ridge Today! Tweet!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); Visit Our Social Channels More Stories About The Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge Vendor Spotlight: Lloyd’s Construction Services February 5, 2018 By WolfRidgeELC In Construction, Stories of The Living Building Challenge, Vendor Spotlight, West Dorm No CommentsWhen most people hear the word “demolition”, images of sledgehammers and front loaders are usually what come to mind. The abundance and popularity of home renovation television shows has made this phase of remodeling appear almost fun and fairly straightfo...Read More Duxton Windows and Heritage Window and Doors Step Up to Rethink Packaging and Shipping Methods for the Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge September 8, 2017 By WolfRidgeELC In Featured Partners, Featured Products, Stories of The Living Building Challenge No CommentsWe all know that landfills are piling up all over the world. The Living Building Challenge asks us to consider how we can keep construction waste out of the waste stream. This becomes a special problem when it comes to transporting new windows [...]

Vendor Spotlight: Holden Electric Co., Inc.

For our first Vendor Spotlight we are featuring one of our neighbors from Two Harbors Minnesota The Vendor Spotlight is our way at Wolf Ridge to thank our Vendors for the support they have given to us in our efforts of being certified as part of the Living Building Challenge. Have Your Business Featured! Vendor Spotlight: Holden Electric Co., Inc. What technical solution or product did your business provide to Wolf Ridge's Living Building Challenge project? Holden Electric Co., was responsible for the installation of the lighting control system in the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge. This was our first Living Building Challenge project and we were excited to be a part of it. We are a Northern Minnesota company, and being able to be part of something right in our backyard with such a huge global impact was a rare opportunity.  What is unique about this solution or product that helps it meet LBC standards? Most other lighting systems are manufactured over seas. Luckily, we were able to source our lighting control system from a local manufacturer right in Minnesota. This was an important consideration when selecting the right products. When you are a vendor working on a Living Building, you have to make additional considerations to ensure all products meet LBC standards, and one of the challenges is sourcing products from within 500 kilometers of the facility. Additionally, the lighting control system helps minimize power consumption in the entire building, which was a paramount consideration when attempting to create a building that is self sustaining. Donate to Wolf Ridge [...]

That’s a Wrap! Prosoco Products: Doing it Differently

Doing it differently: Prosoco products as an example of contractors using products and techniques they've never used before Working to LBC standards has raised the bar for the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge builder teams. They have stepped up and jumped over that bar every time. The use of new, unfamiliar products is one example. The envelope of a building is absolutely critical to its energy performance. A commonplace technique is to use adhesive-backed rubber tapes and foams to seal the gaps between the window and the exterior wall, yet adhesive, tape, and foam products often contain toxic chemicals, as well as result in cut off waste. At the MAC Lodge all window and exterior doors were sealed with LBC Declare labeled Prosoco products. This thick, liquid-applied product is painted on, filling even the tiniest gaps. It dries to become the flashing, the seal to the window, and the seal to the house wrap combined. Another benefit is that Prosoco's R-Guard is breathable, helping to reduce moisture related problems in the future. Donate to Wolf Ridge Today! This was brand new technology for the contractors. They have found it a great product for accomplishing a very tight envelope - one that they will likely promote the use of on future jobs. Once again, the Living Building process has challenged us to explore alternatives to the norm in our construction plans. Openness to change is helping us choose less toxic, better performing products for the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge, and growing the scope of alternatives for the building trades in our region. Tweet!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, [...]

Duxton Windows and Heritage Window and Doors Step Up to Rethink Packaging and Shipping Methods for the Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge

How can the packaging from a semi-truck full of new windows fit in a small car? Duxton Windows is ``Looking Out`` for the environment We all know that landfills are piling up all over the world. The Living Building Challenge asks us to consider how we can keep construction waste out of the waste stream. This becomes a special problem when it comes to transporting new windows to the site. Wolf Ridge's team of Gardner Builders, Heritage Window and Door, and Duxton Windows got their heads together to see what could be done. Donate to Wolf Ridge Today! Typically, new windows arrive encased in packaging for understandable reasons - a broken new window is a huge waste. The team looked at several options. One was to replace the typical foam and plastic wrap with recyclable cardboard. A second was to use only re-usable packing straps to secure the windows to the truck. Out-of-the-box thinking also brought up another option. What if the windows could take a short cut from Duxton's manufacturing plant directly to Wolf Ridge? This would reduce the number of times the windows were handled and moved between trucks, storage buildings, and more, greatly reducing the need for all that padding. The solution worked great! The resulting "waste" was a compact pile of cardboard that could fit in a small car on the way to the recycling plant. Not bad for a semi-truck load full of new windows! Tweet!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); Visit Our Social Channels More Stories About The Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge Vendor Spotlight: Lloyd’s [...]

Wolf Ridge and Benjamin Moore Shake Up the Paint Industry

Because of the efforts of Benjamin Moore, the Wolf Ridge Staff can now proudly say ``Kids, this isn't just paint on the walls, it's global change.`` Wolf Ridge with design partner HGA Architects and Engineers of Mpls, MN had a specified a brand of paint for our set of projects for the past couple years.  A representative from Benjamin Moore along with Andrens Paint of Duluth, MN visited Wolf Ridge more than a year ago.  Andrens had a long history with Wolf Ridge, heard of our project and very much wanted to be a part of it.  But, Benjamin Moore did not have a product compliant with LBC.  The meeting concluded with a gracious "we'll see what we can do" from the Andrens and Ben Moore rep.  Little did we know what they were embarking upon. Donate to Wolf Ridge Today! In August of 2017 we began construction of our 8000' Staff Housing building, also the practice run at building to LBC standards.  We kept asking for documentation of LBC compliance from our specified paint supplier, an internationally known and distributed paint manufacturer, but none was supplied.  It was a great quality paint but they simply never produced the documentation. Meanwhile, little did we know that Benjamin Moore was hustling behind the scenes to step up and lead within their industry.  In June of 2017 as we began our registered LBC project of the West Dorm, we learned that Benjamin Moore had not only done the work to get their paint documented as LBC compliant, but they actually got it [...]

SHOVELS AND RIBBONS: JUNE 3 IN PICTURES

On Saturday, June 3, 2017 we gathered to celebrate the culmination of two important milestones in the Making Waves $9.4 million capital campaign – completion of the Lakeview Staff House and Maintenance Buildings, and kicking off Phase 2, the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge and Lake Superior classroom access. These milestones would not be possible without YOU! Visit Wolf-Ridge.org for the full story

CHANGE IS A-FOOT IN THE WEST DORM

I’ve often thought of the West Dorm as a “home away from home.” School kids move in on Mondays ready to make the place their own. They haul their sleeping bags and clothes off the bus and up into their rooms, thrilled to be on this grand adventure north. Summer campers gather around the fireplace to play board games as they wait for darkness to settle in and stars to come out. In fall’s morning glow, eagles and ravens soar by the great room windows. A parent-chaperone relaxes on the window seat reading a novel during a mid-winter afternoon break. The West Dorm is a place with heart – the kind of place memories are built. Even so, I and others up here are excited to see the old interior walls coming down, making space for the new. Betsey imagines the cozy sitting areas that will allow smaller schools to have private gathering places. Teachers look forward to the ease of grouping students into new rooms with in-room bathrooms and showers, similar to the current East Dorm rooms. The new spaces will be perfect for making lifelong friendships during Summer Family Camp. And through it all, that iconic fireplace will still be there. As you look at these photos, I invite you  to imagine this coming winter with me: Kids will still get off the bus in a rush to see their home away from home. The fireplace will still be a central gathering spot. The sun will pour in through the windows on an expanded great room…. There will [...]