Home on the Range
In 2003, Northern Plains and the Western Organization of Resource Councils purchased a vacant, concrete block building constructed in 1940 as a grocery store. With the help of High Plains Architects, Hardy Construction Company and many volunteers, they transformed one of the most blighted properties in Billings, Montana — into a demonstration of “green” building strategies and technologies.
Our building was designed to maximize daylighting. Three sets of clerestories, north-facing windows on the roof, allow daylight into the middle of the building. New windows with light shelves on inner and outer walls reduce glare and distribute daylight throughout the interior. We have LED bulbs inside as well as outside to minimize energy consumption when the lights are on.
Heating & Cooling
Radiant heating circulates hot water through tubes in the concrete floor, effectively warming the building and its contents and occupants rather than the air which eliminates drafts. The evaporative cooling system moves warm air across a wet surface, cooling the air as the water evaporates. This type of cooling uses only 25% as much energy as conventional air conditioning. Solar hot water is used for hot water needs.
Home on the Range makes more electricity than it uses! During the initial building renovation, a 10kW photovoltaic array was installed on the roof. That array produced approximately one third of the building’s annual energy consumption. In 2016, an additional 24kW array was installed over the parking lot which allows us to generate more electricity than we use!
The combination of a waterless urinal and dual-flush toilets reduce water use while landscaping featuring native and water-wise vegetation significantly reduces irrigation demand in the semi-arid climate.
Sparkling Parking Lot
The “glass” parking lot consists of plastic mat system that uses recycled glass cullet as the top layer. The permeable system allows storm water to soak into the ground instead of going into city storm sewers.
Approximately 92% of the construction and demolition waste was kept out of the landfill by recycling. Innovative recycled materials were used throughout the building. Sunflower seed hulls became countertops and desktops, and wheat board was used for kitchen cupboards and in desks. To reduce energy use and support local businesses, materials were purchased from businesses within a 500-mile radius whenever possible.
Many volunteers and staff devoted hours and days to refurbishing century-old doors and wood molding from the old freezer walls.
In 2007, Home on the Range was the first building in Montana, and the 41st in the United States, to be awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum level, the highest award given by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The building is wrapped in four inches of rigid foam insulation and covered with fiberboard. Additional insulation on the roof, windows, and sub-floor reduce heat loss. Overall, the building uses one-fifth the energy of a similar-sized building.