Solar Panel Field - Sustainable Design

Architecture & Engineering for Sustainable Design

WSN’s architects & engineers incorporate sustainable design elements into your projects to save you money and because it's the right thing to do for our environment. Healthy buildings make for healthy occupants. Maximizing sunlight, designing high-efficiency mechanial systems, and diligently selecting appropriate interior finishes are just some of the ways we make your buildings more comfortable. Here are some of our sustainable design examples.



Audubon Wildlife Refuge and Visitor Center

LEED® Gold Certification

The visitor center facility achieved LEED® Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council. To earn its certification, the building met a comprehensive list of standards for energy conservation, renewable energy production, water efficiency, the use of recycled materials, and indoor environmental quality and control. The facility also earned a LEED education credit by including a LEED/Green building overview exhibit and self-guided green building tour as an active educational component of the visitor experience. Another sustainable design feature of the Refuge specifically relates to preserving the local site—the parking area and other paved outdoor areas were minimized to allow for maximizing the undisturbed site open space. The visitor center is located in Coleharbor, ND.

Arrowwood Wildlife Refuge and Visitor Center

LEED® Silver Certification

The visitor center not only educates us about the environment, it also actively seeks to preserve it. Alternative energy sources are emphasized, including a geothermal system, wind turbines, and solar panels. The campus also includes a maintenance shop and fire cache building, which is the first structure of its kind to receive LEED® certification. The visitor center is located in Pingree, ND.

Crow Creek Tribal School

LEED® Silver Certification

The Crow Creek Tribal School achieved LEED® Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council. To earn its certification, the buildings and site met a comprehensive list of standards for energy conservation. The facility offers carpool and van parking spaces, bicycle lanes, and bicycle storage to encourage alternative transportation. Water reduction measures implemented throughout the buildings reduce water usage inside. Native grasses, drought tolerant landscaping, and a stormwater pond designed to capture rainwater used for irrigation reduce outside water usage. Collection and storage of recyclables have been implemented into the building design, and light pollution reduction is achieved through a combination of fixture selection and strategic fixture placement. Crow Creek Tribal School is located in Stephan, SD.

Lakeland Public Television


WSN engineers designed a mechanical system for Lakeland Public Television's (LPTV) Bemidji location that exceeds the B3-Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines (B3-MSBG). The design utilizes a closed loop geothermal system, variable speed pumping, and a dedicated outdoor air system with energy recovery. WSN architects and engineers also applied several sustainable practices to ensure an optimal balance between meeting users’ needs and controlling operating costs.

Sanford Center


The Sanford Center, located in Bemidji, MN, exceeds the B3-Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines (B3-MSBG) and includes many energy reduction features. The facility includes energy-efficient lighting and heating systems. WSN’s electrical team selected lighting and blackout shades specifically for high quality broadcasting events. Additional features include a lighting control system with touch panels strategically located around the building, color-changing LED fixtures on exterior columns to allow programming of light shows, and a 400 KW generator.

Staples City Hall


Designed to exceed building code requirements by 30 percent, the facility meets the B3–Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines (B3-MSBG) and the Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 (SB 2030) program. Sustainable site design features include native and drought tolerant landscaping and a previous asphalt pavement parking lot, which allows water to filter through. Exterior windows are outfitted with sunshades to block direct sunlight during the summer months while tubular skylights bring natural light into the central area of the building. Interior finishes are constructed of recycled materials and low VOC adhesives improve indoor air quality. Interior lighting includes a daylight harvesting system that adjusts light levels based on the amount of sunlight entering the building.

Solar for Northern Schools


WSN is helping bring solar energy to five schools in central Minnesota. Little Falls, Royalton, Pine River Backus, Pequot Lakes, and the Leech Lake Tribal College will each receive solar panel installations on or adjacent to their facilities. WSN is providing electrical engineering, structural engineering, and architectural services to support Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) on these projects. Installation is anticipated for summer 2018.