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These external shades block direct sunlight from heating the classrooms of the Osgood Kindergarten Center in warmer months when the sun is high. Light above the shade hits a light shelf inside the classroom that bounces the light onto the classroom's ceiling for indirect lighting. (Michael Vosburg/The Forum)

West Fargo school goes green

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West Fargo school goes green
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

WEST FARGO -- West Fargo's new Osgood Kindergarten Center may be the "greenest" school in the area thanks to new energy-saving, environment-friendly features.

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From cabinets constructed out of sunflower hulls to linoleum made out of corks and other natural materials, school design has gone green.

"We made an extra effort for this one," said architect Mark Lundberg of Moorhead-based YHR Partners.

Other actual green areas, though, aren't yet completed. The outside has yet to be landscaped, and crews were still working on the cafeteria last week.

In addition, staff and parents don't have access to the school's parking lot off 57th Street South because the road remains under construction.

Pending projects aside, Principal Darren Sheldon said staff members are pleased with the new building.

"Teachers love the classrooms - the design style," Sheldon said, calling the large windows in each room "a plus."

In fact, each room in the Fargo school, which houses West Fargo first-graders and kindergartners, are equipped with sensors that automatically shut off lights when enough natural light is detected.

High-efficiency lights and super-insulated walls all add up to energy savings for the district.

"It's a long-term investment," Lundberg said. "They will pay back in four, five years."

As for installing the extra "green" features, Lundberg said it doesn't cost any more, "it just takes more on our part to research and find stuff."

It's extra work to ensure the building isn't just a Mother Nature-friendly building but a healthier learning environment for these young students.

Glues and paints used to construct the school have low VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. And while the features may not be something staff and students necessarily notice, Lundberg said it's worth the extra effort.

"We want to build good buildings for kids," he said. "It's the right thing to do."

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