Video | Vendor Spotlight: Uponor

An environmental learning center renovates its campus with a new sustainability program Founded in 1971, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn. was the first environmental learning center nationally accredited as a K-12 school. More than 15,000 people all over the region stay at the facility for several days to immerse themselves in developing the knowledge, skills, motivation and commitment to create a quality environment. Back in 1996, the team at Wolf Ridge chose an Uponor Ecoflex pre-insulated pipe system to heat and cool their facility. With new renovations taking place, Wolf Ridge once again turned to Uponor for Ecoflex thermal twin PEX pipes to help complete the job. The facility is currently the first organization in Minnesota pursing full certification for Living Building Challenge (LBC), a program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability. Therefore, choosing sustainable products was absolutely essential. “We referred to LBC’s Red List chemical guide when choosing our products for the renovation,” explained Pete Smerud, executive director at Wolf Ridge. “The Red List is a list of products that are deemed bad for the environment and human health. PEX pipes are not on that list, but CPVC and PVC pipes are. One of the greatest things about Uponor is they know their products’ ingredients because they manufacture the products themselves.” The project came with a unique challenge because there was a thick layer of bedrock where the Ecoflex was to be installed. This meant there was less soil than desired and Jamar Company, the plumbing contractor, had to be [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]