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  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Consolidated Headquarters, Page 40Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Consolidated Headquarters
LHB Engineers & Architects
21 West Superior Street, #500, Duluth, MN 55802

Tower, Minnesota
Total Square Feet: 37,802
Construction Period: June 2000 to July 2001

Construction Team
General Contractor: H.G. Harvey Construction, Inc. - P.O. Box 558, Eveleth, MN 55734
General Contractor: Max Gray Construction, Inc. - P.O. Box 689, Hibbing, MN 55746
Structural/Electrical/Mechanical Engineer: LHB Engineers & Architects - 21 West Superior Street, #500, Duluth, MN 55802
Landscape Architect: LHB Engineers & Architects - 21 West Superior Street, #500, Duluth, MN 55802

LHB Engineers & Architects provided ecological high performance design for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Consolidated Headquarters in Tower, Minnesota, to enhance the DNR’s commitment of working with Minnesotans in building a strong natural resources stewardship ethic. The design included architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, mechanical and electrical engineering and civil engineering. DNR staffers from Ely, Tower, and Virginia, Minnesota were collocated to form one main area office.

High Performance/Sustainable design strategies, including using the Minnesota Sustainable Guidelines, were utilized throughout the project emphasizing the DNR’s commitment to sustainability. Some of these strategies were natural ideas taking steps to use the resources most readily accessible. For example, the lumber used came from regional DNR forests that are in the process of being certified. The growth and harvesting program of the DNR forests already meets or exceeds Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements in most respects. The wood was milled locally. The gravel used as backfill and fill came from the on-site gravel pit.

The headquarters consists of four main buildings: an office, warm storage and two cold storage buildings. The office is wood frame construction with structural insulated panels on the roof. The warm storage building, which also houses the maintenance workshop, has a steel frame and steel siding. The cold storage buildings are wood frames with steel siding. All buildings have EMU masonry wainscots, asphalt shingle roofs, (except for the steel roof at the low slope portion of the warm storage building) and shallow frost protected footings.

The orientation of the entrances and employee-accessible outdoor spaces take advantage of the solar availability during the short northern summer. The buildings were oriented to maximize southern exposure using roof overhang to minimize heat gain. 

No formaldehyde-containing materials were allowed. The buildings used steel with 30% recycled content, asphalt with 25% recycled content and an aluminum ceiling grid with a 15% recycled content. The site selected was a former gravel pit. Selection and use of this site is clearly an enhancement of the disturbed landscape and eliminated the impact on the environment.

An energy audit and post occupancy energy report from the University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research is being conducted. The knowledge gained from this project will be beneficial for future use to architects and engineers and others looking to build sustainably. 

Both the DNR officials in St. Paul, as well as employees using the new facility felt that the project exceeded their needs. “Bottom-line — LHB satisfied our building’s functional and practical needs, as well as maintaining and preserving the ecology of the site,” said Mark Wallace, DNR Assistant Bureau Administrator, Facilities and Operations, in St. Paul.

“Sustainability was a crucial issue for us,” said Mike Mahnuson, Area Forest Supervisor for the DNR in Tower. “Minimal disruption to the environment and a facility that is both energy efficient and inviting was our goal — LHB exceeded our expectations.”

DIV 04: CMU: Anchor Block. 
DIV 07: Shingles: Certainteed; Architectural Metal Panels: UnaClad® by Copper Sales; Skylights: Velux. 
DIV 08: Overhead Doors: Clopay; Office Windows: Loewen; Translucent Panels: Kalwall.
DIV 09: Walk-Off Tile: US Rubber Recycling; Carpet: Shaw.

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