Credit: Paul Crosby


“An officer at a remote border station squints through the swirling snow and howling wind as a truck with illegible markings comes rumbling to a stop … ”  This is not the beginning of some mystery novel, but just another day at the U.S. Land Port of Entry at Warroad, Minn., a customs and security outpost on the Canadian border designed by Snow Kreilich Architects (formerly Julie Snow Architects).  The challenge that the architects took on was to accommodate a set of federally mandated, security-driven program requirements on the 19-acre site while minimizing energy and water consumption and conserving the wetlands ecosystem. 

The port of entry is designed to modulate five different kinds of flows. First is the flow of automobile traffic, both commercial trucks and passenger cars. Driveways and open-air inspection areas pass between the three buildings that house the offices, visitor lobby, enclosed vehicle inspections, and detention cells.

The second kind was that of the wind, which usually blows from the northwest, and can be brutal in the winter. So the buildings are oriented in a “T” formation to break the wind and create a microclimate of calm air in the outdoor inspection area. Existing tree groves were also conserved in order to be used as wind barriers. 

Third, special attention was given to the flow of water, both on the overall site and inside the facility. Native prairie grasses seeded throughout the site, together with a series of ponds, serve to filter stormwater runoff that is likely to be polluted with hydrocarbons and heavy metals from the idling vehicular traffic. This landscape is designed to be self-sustaining and maintenance-free after the first two years of fertilization and irrigation, blending seamlessly with the surrounding bogs and lakes, which stretch several hundred miles east to Lake Superior. 

Captured rainwater is used to flush the low-flow urinals and toilets, reducing potable water consumption by an estimated 92 percent and contributing to the building’s LEED Gold certification. In this moist environment, water is kept away from the externally insulated structure by means of a rainscreen air cavity behind the cedar cladding. This sustainably harvested cedar siding, together with interior finishes and furniture made partly from the cut-offs of the siding, pay homage to the local traditions of logging and woodcraft.

Fourth, Snow Kreilich shaped the flow of light to improve security, occupant comfort, and energy performance. Extensive glazing provides officers at the main desk with a panoramic view of the roads and drives . A shade canopy over the glazed southern elevation reduces solar heat gain in the summer, but allows the winter sun to warm the interior. This same canopy stretches across all three buildings, forming a sheltered passage, and visually unifying the whole complex. 

Finally, the building also taps into geothermal flows to power its radiant floor heating system and even an outdoor snow-melt system. Less salt on the pavement, of course, means a lighter impact on the surrounding wetland ecosystem. 


Click here to see all of the 2014 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects. Scroll down for more images, along with performance data and project team and materials information. Stay tuned for profiles of this year's winning firms on Ecobuildingpulse.com, along with additional coverage of this year's Top Ten in the Spring issue of ECOBUILDING Review.

Credit: Paul Crosby


Credit: Paul Crosby


Credit: Paul Crosby


Credit: Paul Crosby


Credit: Paul Crosby


BY THE NUMBERS
Project completion date:
February 2010
Building gross floor area: 40,108 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 0
Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours: 91
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 1.31
Percent of views to the outdoors: 93
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 0
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 92
Potable water used for irrigation: No
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed on site: 90
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 193
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 193
Third-party rating: LEED Gold
Total project cost as time of completion (land excluded): $30 million

GREEN TEAM
Architect, interior designer, green/LEED consultant:
Snow Kreilich Architects, Inc., snowkreilich.com
Client, owner: U.S. General , Services Administration, Great Lakes Region, gsa.gov/portal/category/21456
Electrical engineer, life-cycle analyst, mechanical engineer, lighting designer: Sebesta Blomberg, sebesta.com
Structural engineer: Meyer Borgman Johnson, www.mbjeng.com
Civil engineer: Jacobs Engineering Group, jacobs.com
Geotechnical engineer: Key Engineering, keyengineering.com
Landscape architect: Coen + Partners, coenpartners.com 
Construction manager, general contractor: Kraus-Anderson, krausanderson.com

MATERIALS
Air, moisture, and vapor barriers:
W.R. Meadows, wrmeadows.com
Building management systems and services: Johnson Controls, johnsoncontrols.com
Carpet: Shaw, shawfloors.com
Resilient flooring: Ecore Commercial Flooring, ecorecommercialflooring.com
Ceilings: Northwest Cabinets, northwestcabinetsllc.com
Cladding, exterior wall systems: Weekes Forest Products, weekesforest.com
Concrete: Duncan Concrete, duncanconcreteproducts.com
Curtain walls: Wausau, wausauwindow.com
Furniture: Knoll, knoll.com
Glass: Anderson Glass, andersonglass.com
Interior lighting: Koncept Technologies, concept.co
Masonry, structural systems: Midwest Masonry, midwestmasonryinc.com
Millwork: Northwest Cabinets, northwestcabinetsllc.com
Paints and finishes: Sherwin Williams, sherwin-williams.com
Plumbing and water systems: Wisy, wisy.de
Roofing: Genflex, genflex.com
Interior doors: Algoma Hardwoods, www.algomahardwoods.com
Tubular skylights: Solatube, solatube.com
Tile: Stonepeak Ceramics, stonepeakceramics.com; American Olean, americanolean.com

Data provided by AIA and Snow Kreilich Architects.