Fond du Lac Band ‘walks the walk’ on energy conservationIn 2007, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa ratified the Kyoto Protocol because, as Chairwoman Karen Diver said, signing the international agreement “fits with the Band’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint and to increase our use of renewable energy.”
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
In 2007, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa ratified the Kyoto Protocol because, as Chairwoman Karen Diver said, signing the international agreement “fits with the Band’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint and to increase our use of renewable energy.”
Last Friday, band members celebrated the grand opening of the first highly energy efficient building on the entire reservation: the Resource Management and Tribal Court Building.
“LEED certification makes environmental and economic sense,” Diver said in an e-mail to the Pine Journal. “The reduced energy helps us meet our goals and saves money.”
Project architect Tari Rayala of SJA Architects of Duluth said the new building, designed to meet the highest environmental standards, replaced two older buildings that had been on the site and should be LEED certified soon. (LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.)
Mike Murray couldn’t be more thrilled. Murray, the construction projects manager for the Fond du Lac Development Corporation, took real joy pointing out both cultural and environmental features in the new building during a tour Friday.
He pointed out a large windowed area to a plant-covered roof outside.
“We are allowing in natural light and the roof will hold water that otherwise could cause water pollution and erosion,” he said, pointing out the bank of windows. “See those aluminum ladder things? Those are plant trellises. When the [native] plants get established, there will be natural shading in the summer.”
In the courtroom area, Murray explained how the room could be divided into three public meeting areas when court is not in session. He also noted that the judge’s bench and other furnishings are all bullet-proof, something he said is standard in modern courtrooms.
Outside each door in the building is a placard, identifying in English and Ojibwe what lies within. One small sign reads, “Archival Storage” in English. In Ojibwe it reads “Gete Mazin’iganan Wigamig,” which translates as “very old papers.”
Logs, harvested in Ely, surround and disguise structural steel posts in some of the rooms. A mounted owl sits on one.
“Part of being LEED certified is that you have to have a certain percentage of regional materials,” Murray explained.
Murray isn’t the only Band member who’s thrilled with the new building.
“The old building was 4,700 square feet with over-crowded office space, two to three people per office and lack of storage space,” said Reginald DeFoe, FDL resource management director. “Conservation Enforcement had eight staff sharing one office, and our division just outgrew the old building over a short period of years.”
Most of the 60 employees have already moved into the new building, which sits near other reservation government buildings as well as the Ojibwe School and Head Start.
Asked what he’s most proud of, DeFoe essentially answered “everything.”
“The entire building, everything in the interior and exterior, courtroom, colors, and more privacy and no interruptions in the conference rooms and a more comfortable working environment,” he said.
Well, that about sums it up.
“It’s been a fun project,” Murray said.