New Kelley Farm Visitor Center will be a LEED Gold and B3 Sustainable Building

The Minnesota Historical Society will utilize USGBC’s LEED Green Building Design and Construction Certification system as a way to support the mission of the Oliver Kelley Farm:

“...interpret the history of family farms, Kelley Family, and MN’s agriculture past, present and future to nurture an understanding of where our food comes from and agriculture’s image on our world...”

LEED supports this by guiding an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable infrastructure to deliver this outcome.  It is also responsible for significant market transformation in sustainable building, and is often recognized by general audiences as well as those in the construction industry.  In particular, the team is targeting Gold certification (of Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels).  

Image above: The new visitor center at the Oliver Kelley Farm.  The view shows the approach from the historic farm to the south of the new building. 

There will be many exciting energy, waste, and water reduction features in the new Kelley Farm visitor center.  One primary energy savings strategy will be the geothermal heating system.  The system uses vertical wells, underneath the new parking lot, that will utilizes pumps to transfer free heat from below ground to the building.  The mechanical system is also designed to utilize significantly less energy than a typical building of the same size.  High insulation levels in the walls, including the more durable and efficient spray foam insulation, as well as triple pane windows will help retain heat and cooling, putting less demand on the system.  In addition, the spaces will prioritize the use of materials that are durable, healthy, and locally sourced; this includes local stone, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood, low VOC (volatile organic compounds that are harmful to humans) paints, adhesives, and finish materials.  

Other features will include electric vehicle charging stations for the public and staff and rooftop solar panels that help offset the use of electricity in the building.  The 40 kW array of solar panels will be tied to the electric grid and will offset approximately 20% of the estimated building electricity usage.  

Part of the development process of this sustainable building is the enhanced commissioning services. Like with the History Center’s recommissioning project, a building commissioning agent worked with the design team throughout the process to include energy efficient equipment and to optimize operations of the system.  Since this is a new building, there will be a lot to learn about the systems operations and maintenance during the first year of operations.  

The use of LEED standards for building design aligned well with the State of Minnesota's B3 2030 Energy Standards. Both certification systems consider energy efficient design, water conservation, and sustainability education of visitors and users of the building. Learn more at the USGBC website and the B3 website; and stay tuned to our blog for updates and other information during the process of construction and the first year of post-occupancy.