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Portage Monument building energy efficient housing

Housing construction progress at Grand Portage
Housing construction progress at Grand Portage

CochraneLEEDS_012611.mp36.01 MB
LEEDS Interview.mp311.82 MB

The Grand Portage National Monument is in the process of constructing housing for its seasonal employees and they’re going for green in a big way. The project’s construction materials, innovated design innovations, water and energy efficiency are all pointing to a LEED platinum certification. Park supervisor Tim Cochrane said the project is a collaboration with the Grand Portage Band.

Cochrane: We’re collaborating fundamentally in two different ways. The first way is actually pre-building, and that is that we worked a formal lease with the Grand Portage Band through the reservation tribal council to lease roughly three acres which is the construction site. That’s all a long standing problem in the monument areas of the stockade area and picnic area that hugs Lake Superior. The problem for us is there are archaeological deposits almost everywhere. So, finding a spot that was free of archaeological deposits was step one. And, the second collaboration is the Grand Portage band is doing all the construction.

LEED standards are the highest green standards a project can build to. Cochran said these qualities are a part of the Park Service goals.

Cochrane: The Park Service, generally now, is in a big interest in green building, including the Department of the Interior of which we are a part, has set some standards for lowering energy consumption and green building practices. And, what happened for us, and we were fortunate, is that they were working on a prototype building design and they needed a guinea pig, so to speak. We were at the right place at the right time, so we volunteered, we had a desperate need for housing. The result is we’re up and away on the project.

Cochrane elaborated on the monument’s pressing need for staff housing.

Cochrane: In the summertime, when the need is greatest for us, I looked for just last year we had 21 seasonal employees and volunteers. About half of those numbers are actually volunteers that come up and spend the whole summer with us. A certain proportion of those folks are not local people and they need housing. So, that’s the primary use it’s being put up for. In the off-season or shoulder seasons, we often have research ongoing and in the wintertime we even have research for other employees that need housing. Sometimes we have students that are doing research in our archaeological collections here. So, the main use of the buildings is in the summer, but we do have fall and winter use, as well.

The facility consists of two wings each with four bedrooms. The site location and building design emphasizes its green nature.

Cochrane: It has things in it like it’s calibrated to absorb a lot of sun in the wintertime and then the windows to not allow a lot of or less amounts of sun in the summertime. It has a pretty steep roof; it has solar panels on it to generate some degree of electricity.

The project is well under way and could be completed by May of this year.

The complete interview with Tim Cochrane and Jay Andersen as aired on the Jan. 25 AM Community Calendar is also attached.