Northland has several demonstration scale renewable energy systems on campus. Solar photovoltaic arrays for generating electricity are located at the McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center (MELLC), Dexter Library, Straw Bale Building (home of the Sunshine Community Bike Shoppe), and the President’s house. Solar thermal arrays for making hot water are located on McMillan Hall and the MELLC. An 11 kW wind turbine also generates electricity for the MELLC. The Dexter Library is heated and cooled with geothermal.
Northland College is currently working with Affiliated Engineers Inc. from Madison, Wisconsin, to assess options for reducing the campus’ CO2 emissions from our current level of about 3,500 metric tons/year to net zero by 2030. The results of the study will be available later in 2015.
Actions for achieving this goal will likely include energy efficiency improvements, incorporating large amounts of renewable energy, and additional technologies and partnerships to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We’re eager to maintain and expand our role as a national leader in campus and community sustainability.
McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center
The McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, which opened in 1998, serves as a unique residential space for students and was an early model for green design. Students were active participants in the building’s design process and helped to select environmentally-friendly materials like recycled carpet, furniture made from recycled milk jugs and recycled steel, bio-composite material for counter-tops, windows with low-emissivity coated glass, and natural-based linoleum floors to employ the best use of resources.
- Three photovoltaic solar arrays provide efficient active solar energy collection
- Motion-sensor lighting and high-efficiency light fixtures, motors, and appliances cut down on electricity use
- Two waterless composting toilets and low-flow water saving fixtures throughout the building help to conserve water
- 120-foot 11 kilowatt wind turbine located at the southeast corner of the building
- Fourteen solar panels placed on the roof of the south wing preheat hot water for residential use
- Increased insulation of walls, ceilings, and windows along with heat recovery of exhaust air, high efficiency boilers for space and water heating
Dexter Library (LEED Gold)
Northland’s Dexter library was renovated in 2008 and was one of the first LEED Gold certified buildings in Wisconsin. To receive a Gold level certification, the project had to control not just what was built, but what was thrown away. 75% of the construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills. These materials were either recycled or reused, reducing the burden on landfills and the demand for virgin resources.
- Recycled content carpet
- 50% of new wood-based products and materials are FSC-certified
- 30% of the furniture and furnishings were reused and/or refurbished
- 20% of building materials manufactured within 500 miles
- 14kW photovoltaic solar array on the roof
- Geothermal heating and cooling
- Energy efficient lighting with occupancy sensors
- Increased roof insulation
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures
- Extensive use of materials low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Straw Bale Building (home of the Sunshine Community Bike Shoppe)
In the winter of 1998 a straw bale design workshop was conducted on campus. Then, during May term 1999, several students built the structure to model a building constructed entirely of locally produced materials (wood, straw, and earthen plaster). This building is now the home of the Sunshine Community Bike Shoppe. Straw bales provide great insulation, the ceiling is insulated with cellulose from recycled newspapers, and south facing windows capture passive solar heating.
Northland’s campus has plenty of chemical-free lawns for lounging and impromptu games of ultimate frisbee. But large areas of campus have also been restored to native plant communities. Areas around the Larson-Juhl Center for Science and the Environment, the Ring Road, Ponzio Campus Center, and Dexter Library incorporate the distinct flavor of northern Wisconsin habitats to further connect the campus to its surroundings. The unmistakable fragrance of white pine, graceful waves of grasses and wildflowers, and indigenous songbird calls all create a distinct sense of place that we love to call home.
Mino Aki Gardens
The original Northland garden was created in the late 1990’s by a group of guerrilla gardeners under the cloak of night with a rototiller. Known as the Sunshine Garden, it was managed by the Sunshine Community Theme House. This garden flourished, bringing people together in a community space with an atmosphere that can only be grown in a garden. But it was also overrun with rabbits. In the fall of 2006 a new properly fenced garden space was created behind the MELLC and the current Mino Aki Garden was born. The garden has expanded to include community garden spaces near Gaia’s Cradle and an additional production garden next to Memorial Hall. Mino Aki, which means good earth in Ojibwe, is run and managed by work-study students and is open to everyone.
A student-run ReUse Room is located in the basement of the Townhouses. Students created this “free store” as a way to reuse all the possessions we inevitably accumulate and discard. Open to students and community members, all items are all free. Donations can be dropped off at the store, or in the drop-box outside of the Ponzio Campus Center. Find something for your dorm room, a gift, or that amazing thing you didn’t know you needed but can’t possibly live without. Once you’ve used it and don’t need it anymore, bring it back for someone else to enjoy.