The Nature Conservancy announced today that on July 24 it will open its new headquarters and workshop to the public for the first time. The new facilities are sustainably designed and incorporate energy-efficient systems and technologies.
Tours of the new buildings are part of the Conservancy’s Open House on the Prairie event on Saturday, July 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, includes opportunities to view the preserve’s bison herd and join a prairie hike.
The open house will be held rain or shine. Refreshments will be provided. Call the Conservancy’s Ordway Prairie Preserve at (605) 216-0957 for more information.
The new buildings include a number of features that can be incorporated in almost any new construction in both urban and rural areas.
“Even commonplace post-frame structures widely used on ranches in the region can be energy- and resource-efficient and conserve water,” said Jim Widder, principal of GreenWave Energy Architecture, a Minneapolis firm that designed and managed the construction of Ordway Prairie’s new headquarters and workshop.
For example, Ordway’s new buildings face south to let in natural light year-round as well as passive solar radiation for heat in the winter. The overhanging roofs provide shade in the summer and are light colored. Both contribute to keeping the interiors cool in the heat of summer. All of the windows are operable to promote natural ventilation.
Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures inside the buildings will also reduce the impact on the environment and help the Conservancy save money through lower monthly utility bills.
A pre-manufactured, post-framed building system produced by Cleary Building Company was used to construct the buildings so there was relatively little construction waste on site. Many of the doors and windows and much of the steel in the building siding were made from recycled materials.
Mary Miller, manager of Ordway Prairie, said she hopes residents come out on July 24 not only to see the new headquarters and workshop but also to learn more about how the Conservancy manages the 7,800-acre property.
“We established Ordway Prairie not only to conserve native plants and wildlife, but also as a site to research and demonstrate the best ways to manage land for the benefit of native prairie wildlife and livestock,” she said.
“Management and research requires teamwork and cooperation,” Miller added. “The new facilities will provide an efficient work space and housing for staff, volunteers and researchers in addition to a place for landowners and conservationists to meet, collaborate and learn from each other.”
The Conservancy expects to add a wind turbine and a solar panel atop the workshop building later this year.
“Half of the cost of wind power is in the tower itself and in the long electrical runs to buildings,” Widder said. “South Dakota is the Saudi Arabia of wind, so by adding a few rooftop turbines much of the energy needed at Ordway Prairie can be generated on site.”
The Conservancy is seeking additional donations to help complete and furnish the new buildings and to add more wind turbines and photo-voltaic panels so that Ordway Prairie can produce all the energy it needs.
People who are interested in helping accomplish this goal can contact the Conservancy’s Christina Hausman at (612) 331-0703.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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