The translucent block wall of the library will pass light into the interior of the building.

Native American Community Center at Red Lake Nears Completion

Michael Meuers
9/7/11

Red Lake Nation will soon have a new home for the Ponemah Branch of the Red Lake Nation Boys and Girls Club. The $2.5 million multi-purpose community center is on schedule for fall completion.

The groundbreaking for the Boys and Girls Club and new Ponemah Center was held last May. The new Ponemah Community Center replaces a nearly 50-year-old facility and trailer for the Boys and Girls Club.

In 2009, a facility assessment was completed and determined that the aging facility was in poor condition and could not accommodate the growing youth population and community needs. A collaborative community master plan process was then implemented with the help of DSGW Architects of Duluth, Minnesota.

The conclusion was that the Ponemah community would benefit from a community space for cultural gatherings, activity space for youth, a library and a technology resource center.

The new center features a multi-purpose gymnasium with ceremonial North and South entrances, and will provide community gathering space for wakes.

“Part of the grant agreement was to have a library contained within the center, which was just fine with us,” said Glenda Martin, Ponemah representative to the Red Lake Tribal Council, during a recent tour of the building.

Dan Crowe, an employee of Red Lake Builders and the job superintendent for the project said during the tour that the old building will be torn down.

“The new building is designed so that it can be added to,” Crowe said. “Head Start and a daycare center for sure.”

“Right now the center will be split between the Community Center and the Boys and Girls Club, thus a multi-use facility,” added Martin.

Red Lake Goes Green

“The building is designed to maximize energy efficiency by utilizing solar technology, water heated panels, and geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool the building. Strategically placed windows will maximize daylight interior lighting which results in energy efficiency,” said Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. in the 2011 State of the Band message.

Ponemah Boys and Girls Club Building

“The building is all about saving energy,” said Martin, “with reflected light from the library into the main part of the building through glass block walls.”

Martin said a south wall of solar panels will both heat and cool the building.

“Energy efficiency was a high priority, not only for philosophical and cultural reasons, but for economics as well,” Martin said. “It cost something like thirty-grand to heat the old building.”

The new Ponemah Community Center uses best practices for sustainable design. Simple design considerations such as building orientation, location of windows, selection of long-life cycle materials, low-emitting interior materials and finishes, as well as the use of sun shades will enhance the performance and longevity of the building.

Red Lake representatives worked with DSGW Architects to choose appropriate sustainable design elements. This included creating payback modeling for energy efficient mechanical systems to estimate the return on investment.

Before selecting a geothermal heat pump and well system with in-floor heat, for example, DSGW staff prepared a cost-benefit analysis. This identified the benefits of sun shading devices, geothermal heat pumps, and a solar wall with a simple pay-back of 15 years to reduce the overall energy costs to operate the facility.

Ponemah Community Center will operate more efficiently, require less maintenance and also provide a safe, healthy environment for the community.

One unique system used on the south exterior wall of the gymnasium is a solar air heating system. The solar collector is mounted a few inches from the building’s outer wall. Perforations in the metal panels allow outside air to travel through the face of the panel. Solar heated air at the surface of the panel is drawn through the perforations where it rises between the two walls and enters the building’s ventilation system where it is pushed out of the building. In the summer, this system will help prevent normal solar radiation from reaching the building's main wall and heating up the building.

“The completed facility will host not only the Boys and Girls Club and the Ponemah Community Center, but also a Library, Head Start, Social Services, Elderly Nutrition, Day Care, and even a Judicial Court,” Martin said.?“With a full gymnasium, library, computer room, kitchen, activities room, tech room, and full kitchen, the center will meet the needs of community members of all ages. And all is shared space between the community and the Boys and Girls Club.”

Money for the facility came from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, HUD Indian Community Development Block Grants, President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), USDA, EII, and the Red Lake Tribal Council.

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