Whitefish’s greenhouse project blossoms into ‘net-zero’ center

Print Article

  • Left, Sean Corry of Buddy Platform, Inc. of Seattle and Tom Coburn of Morrison-Maierle of Kalispell discuss where to install the sensors for the new Buddy Platform. The system will allow students and faculty at the Center to monitor energy consumption.

  • 1

    A grand opening for the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at Whitefish High School is planned for noon on April 21. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Interior of the greenhouse at the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at Whitefish High School. The greenhouse is heated in three ways. The primary is the climate battery which draws heat during the day, stores it underground and releases it during the night. Stage two is an air source heat pump which is 100 percent effective and under the right circumstances can be up to 340 percent effective. And the final stage is two gas-fired heating units. Morrison-Maierle of Kalispell designed the mechanical and electrical infrastructure and Montana Creative of Whitefish is responsible for the architecture. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    Detail of a Buddy Platform unit to be installed at the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship.(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Left, Sean Corry of Buddy Platform, Inc. of Seattle and Tom Coburn of Morrison-Maierle of Kalispell discuss where to install the sensors for the new Buddy Platform. The system will allow students and faculty at the Center to monitor energy consumption.

  • 1

    A grand opening for the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at Whitefish High School is planned for noon on April 21. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Interior of the greenhouse at the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at Whitefish High School. The greenhouse is heated in three ways. The primary is the climate battery which draws heat during the day, stores it underground and releases it during the night. Stage two is an air source heat pump which is 100 percent effective and under the right circumstances can be up to 340 percent effective. And the final stage is two gas-fired heating units. Morrison-Maierle of Kalispell designed the mechanical and electrical infrastructure and Montana Creative of Whitefish is responsible for the architecture. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    Detail of a Buddy Platform unit to be installed at the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship.(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Preparations are underway for the grand opening next week of the $2.65 million Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at Whitefish High School.

The two-story classroom building and greenhouse on the high school campus was constructed with renewable energy systems such as geothermal and solar, and building features such as triple-pane windows, with the goal to become a “net-zero energy building.” A net-zero or “zero-energy” building means that the energy consumed over the duration of a year is about equal to the renewable energy produced at the facility.

Determining if the facility has achieved net-zero energy consumption may take a few years, according to Tom Coburn, a mechanical engineer with Morrison-Maierle. While energy may be monitored daily, the data is evaluated annually.

“You consume more energy than you produce in the winter, and hopefully in the summer you produce more energy than you consume,” Coburn said.

Arriving at net zero is an ambitious goal dependent on people’s habits as much as the renewable energy systems.

“The way you become net zero is the operation of the building. The people need to be cognizant of energy usage — which is the whole point of the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship — to teach students to be cognizant of these things,” Coburn said.

Sustainability has been a district-wide focus, from the classroom to building maintenance and food services. In May 2017 the school district made the cut as a Green Ribbon School through the U.S. Department of Education.

Eventually, the center will encompass gardens, an experimental forest, a native grass meadow, an orchard and a wet meadow detention pond. The center will be the site of hands-on curriculum in agriculture, energy, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and sustainable practices for grades K-12. The intention is to also open it up to the community for adult education classes or lectures.

The center started out as a grassroots effort in 2014, when Freeflow Club members and students in other environmental clubs at Whitefish High School began fundraising efforts to purchase a new greenhouse for the high school to replace the one demolished during the school’s reconstruction. By 2015, the students’ $50,000 goal was surpassed when $70,000 was raised with the support of community philanthropist Rich Atkinson — but the donations and grants continued to pour in. The project evolved from purchasing a 30-by-50-foot Matterhorn-style greenhouse to an approximately 6,200-square-foot facility.

Even before opening its doors, the center was selected for a Mountain West region Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council in March.

The public is invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon on April 21 at the center located on 1143 Fourth St. People are also invited to register online to participate in two free workshops on native plants and composting. “Grow Local with Native Plants” will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and “The Dirt on Compost” from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

The grand opening and workshops are planned in conjunction with the fourth annual Flathead Earth Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Whitefish High School.

The festival will include more than 40 booths featuring nonprofits, conservation groups, government agencies and businesses where visitors can participate in activities, make crafts, or view demonstrations related to the theme “Grow it, Fix it, Save it, Live it.” There will be live music and Wild Wings Recovery will put on a bird show at 11:30 a.m.

Visitors are encouraged to bike, walk or carpool to the event. A bike rodeo will be held for children to practice safe bicycle skills. People may also stop by a bicycle maintenance station for a tune-up and safety check.

Event organizers are anticipating to also celebrate the launch of the Whitefish Climate Action Plan pending its approval at a city council public hearing on Monday. The Whitefish Climate Action Plan is a partnership between the city of Whitefish, Whitefish School District and the nonprofit Climate Smart Glacier Country to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and prepare for climate change.

For more information and to register for the workshops visit http://www.flatheadcitizens.org/flathead-earth-day.

Print Article

Read More School Information

Flathead senior embraces volunteerism with a big heart

May 30, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Under the outward appearance of someone who just likes to keep busy all the time, at heart, Payton Hallos is a dedicated volunteer making a difference in the lives around her. “I just have always be...

Comments

Read More

Schools get their own report cards under federal law

April 24, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Students aren’t the only ones who receive report cards monitoring their performance. The Montana Office of Public Instruction has released report cards summarizing the state of Montana schools onlin...

Comments

Read More

Local schools highlight needs, successes

March 27, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Flathead Valley Community College and Kalispell Public Schools hit the high points on programs and funding at the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Tuesday. Chris Clouse, vice president...

Comments

Read More

KMS history lesson includes grinding wheat, churning butter

February 23, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake In Montana History teacher Kris Schreiner’s classroom at Kalispell Middle School there was an uncustomary setup on Tuesday — a pail of winter wheat, grain mill, strainer, half-gallons of heavy whippi...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X