Native American Mont. College Goes Green

Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana, is a public, tribally-controlled community college located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation — and now, it has a new claim to fame as the home of the first Native American building in the nation (and the first educational building in the state) to take LEED Platinum certification.

Named Ahm Ska Tos Po II Koh Kan, or South Wind Lodge, the building was designed to incorporate the history and culture of the Blackfeet, making use of traditional tribal art forms and motifs. Its solar power system will generate juice and sell what it doesn’t use back to the power company. The building makes the most of that power by using around 60% less energy than a conventionally built building, and utilizes passive solar orientation to minimize heating and cooling bills.

Blackfeet Community College -- South Wind Lodge

image via Kath Williams

The Billings Gazette reports that other green features include high-performance insulating glass, insulating panel skylights, and automated blinds tied to light sensors; computer-controlled heating, ventilation and cooling with radiant floors and high efficiency boilers; low VOC finishes; and low-flow water features. During construction, 83 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

The building was designed by Gordon Whirry Architects with Kath Williams as the Senior LEED AP.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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