Minnesota DNR’s Glenwood Area Fisheries Building Designed to Support and Stand Up to Nature
Sometimes, zero means everything.
Minnesota DNR’s new Glenwood Area Fisheries building has a zero energy rating, representing a 100% reduction in carbon producing fuel used for building energy (net zero carbon) for an average building; an impressive milestone that hits the mark for SB 2030 Energy Standards. The zero energy rating is just one of the many achievements in a project that was designed, and built, with nature very much top of mind.
Replacing a 1905 farmhouse structure that served as DNR offices for over 100 years, the 9,407 s.f., two-story facility sits on the Glenwood Hatchery site in Glenwood, Minnesota, adjacent to Lake Minnewaska. The facility produces walleye to stock fishing lakes throughout the state, with a research lab evaluating stocking processes, artificial spawning habitats and genetic performance. The DNR’s environmental stewardship is baked into the building’s infrastructure, which utilizes energy neutral technologies including geothermal heating and cooling, LED smart lighting, natural lighting and solar energy. The grounds are landscaped with native plants, rain gardens and pervious pavers to control runoff.
Recognized for Green Achievement
Since its completion in late 2016, the facility has earned recognition for design and environmental leadership, including a 2018 Merit Award from the Association of Licensed Architects (ALA). The project was a finalist for a 2018 Best of B3 Design Award; and was also named a Best of Sustainable Buildings 2030 Finalist, recognized for its use of used early energy modeling, integrative design, and a combination of passive and active strategies to design a net-zero energy building. A key strategy was minimizing air infiltration through design details and construction. At this writing the project is pending review for LEED Certification, aiming for Gold status.
Minnesota’s B3 Guidelines- Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond- are designed to make buildings more energy efficient and sustainable; and are required on all projects that receive funding from the State of Minnesota.
Earlier this year Glenwood Area Fisheries building was also recognized with two SIPA Building Excellence Awards for its use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). Subcontractor Extreme Panel Technologies met tight timeline using 10″ walls and 12″ roof SIPs to achieve an impressive leakage rate of only 0.36 air changes per hour (ACH50).
Designed for Durability, Flexibility, and High Function
According to Janis Curiskis, Architect 2 Operations Services, MN Department of Natural Resources, DNR priorities for the new facility were fourfold:
- LEED Gold/ B3 certified zero energy building that utilizes natural daylighting and maximizes the use of Geothermal and solar potential.
- Functional, durable and flexible spaces for offices and meeting spaces, with both indoor and outdoor components.
- A welcoming environment for visitors with clean comfortable restrooms, and information.
- A secure facility to serve as the ‘main entrance’ to the Hatchery site, with suitable parking access.
The team met early in the process and continued close coordination throughout to identify and implement readily achievable strategies that would provide the most impact, Curiskis said.
“First was a tight, well insulated envelope to minimize energy needs,” said Curiskis. “Second was how to generate the energy needed.” Geothermal in tandem with Photovoltaic panels proved to be the best choice for this site. Civil worked with Mechanical to locate the Geothermal field under the parking area to minimize site disruption. Mechanical and Structural worked to ensure ducts were sized to fit within the structural framing to minimize the floor to floor height, thus reducing the overall building envelope. Architectural and Electrical worked to eliminate wiring chases/outlets from the exterior SIP panel walls.
Green Construction Materials
Locally sourced materials used in the project included granite and thermally treated ash wood siding, which was also selected for its minimal maintenance requirements and life span.
Concrete, vapor barriers, counter tops, carpeting and ceilings were all specified based on their meeting both B3 and LEED sustainability requirements. All the materials and details were specified to provide a building that requires minimal maintenance while being durable enough to last generations rather than years.
Minimizing Disruption to the Land
The building was set on the area once occupied by the old farm house/ office as an effort to minimize the disruption of undeveloped land. The use of pervious pavers in the parking area was utilized in coordination with retention ponds and native plants to replace much of the lawn areas as a way to reintroduce a more sustainable native habitat.
Construction of the facility started Nov. 2015 and completed October 2016. KA’s Bemidji office construction team maintained high standards for quality, working to successfully address the challenges of the site and the northern climate.
“Very high quality standards were maintained throughout the project, with strict attention paid to air infiltration issues and insulation standards,” said Duane Kaiser, KA Senior Project Manager. In addition, this was KA’s first attempt at high scale Structural Insulated Panels, necessitating especially careful scheduling and coordination with subcontractors.
Extreme Panel SIPs quality control standards were a driving factor in their selection as the project’s SIPs supplier, Kaiser said. “The quality control behind the factory-made SIPs meant less time on site being exposed to weather conditions,” he said. “Extreme Panels have high R-value wall and roof assemblies with an air infiltration rate of nearly zero. Building a better envelope makes the heating and cooling systems smaller and work more efficiently,” Kaiser said.
Natural Challenges: Soil Conditions
The complexity of the building and parking area design presented schedule challenges, as did the tight site. “We found bad soil under the whole parking lot area and had to do a sub cut of approximately 7 feet,” noted KA Project Superintendent Gary Francisco. As the parking area was the only staging area for SIP panels, the soil corrections threatened the construction schedule.
“My original plan was to finish the parking area by the time the SIP Panels were ready to ship,” said Francisco. “I had no choice but to use the parking space before it was finished.
Natural Challenges: Winter
“In order to gain building enclosure by winter, I had to abandon the parking lot work and hope for a long warm fall,” said Francisco. “As luck would have it, we were able to get the building up and just had enough time in the fall to get the parking area finished and the landscaping completed. We didn’t have a day to spare. When it turned cold it got very cold fast. It was winter overnight,” Francisco said.
With the site work done, we just needed to get the building finished for an early spring turn over to the owner.
Natural Challenges: Spring
“We did have some torrential rains that slowed the progress of building our parking and water retention ponds,” said Francisco. “We just kept moving on, pumping water, etc. until we got it completed.
“Because we had to put the cart ahead of the horse by getting the landscaping done before our siding on the building, I rented big pads to lay over the sod to protect it so we could drive our equipment where needed. I also rented a special man lift with a working platform that could boom over the planting beds to install our siding,” said Francisco.
“As with all projects there are many challenges to overcome,” Francisco said.
With careful strategic planning, a little luck and the grace of God, we were able to get this one done on time.”
That’s the nature of the work.