Menahga Net-Zero Building
Expanding into Menahga, MN
WCTA was growing out of its Sebeka office, so when a vacant building in Menahga became available for purchase, WCTA recognized not only an opportunity to expand its office space, but also to remodel the new building to be as energy-efficient as possible, with the end goal of being a “net zero” building. (That’s a building with a net energy consumption of zero, meaning it makes as much energy as it uses.)
Public Wi-Fi Green Space
At the same time, the city of Menahga was looking for ways to provide visitors with a public “Wi-Fi” space, so WCTA designed the yard to combine both the functionality of solar power with an attractive garden space that offers the public free Wi-Fi internet access, picnic tables made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and shading provided by the semi-transparent bi-facial solar panels covering the pergola area.
A final touch was to design a greener parking lot. A standard parking lot would send potentially polluted rainwater directly into neighboring Spirit Lake. The WCTA parking lot, however, actually collects rainwater into two 1,000 gallon underground storage tanks, which is then used to water the plants in the public green space.
Project Funding and Paybacks
WCTA applied for and received a grant of $17,042 from Wadena County Soil and Water Department for the rainwater system. For the renewable energy systems, a USDA grant, Minnesota Power rebates, and other financial incentives brings the estimated payback time to 8.5 years.