The first thing you notice when you step into the new career technology education facility at Four Winds in Fort Totten is the light from all the windows and skylights.

The first thing you notice when you step into the new career technology education facility at Four Winds in Fort Totten is the light from all the windows and skylights.

Then you notice how comfortable the temperature is.

On Tuesday, Aug. 29 workers were still making adjustments and helping Superintendent Jeff Olson and his staff learn how to monitor the building’s controls.

The Fort Totten Public School construction of an energy-efficient, state-of-the-art building is complete - mostly.
Classes have already begun in the building and teachers are getting their classrooms and offices organized.

To celebrate the new facility, there will be a public open house on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. The grand opening ceremony will be led by tribal leaders in the community followed by refreshments.
ReNa Lohnes who sits on the board that governs the facility was visiting with some of the teachers Tuesday afternoon.

“We are so proud of our new school,” she said. She serves on the school’s board with Justin Yankton, Douglas Yankton, Vern Lambert and Lynette Lovejoy.

Business Manager Walt Hollifield was equally enthusiastic about the new building pointing out its money saving features, like lights that automatically turn themselves off if no one is in the building.
Teachers Mr. Chiang (Math and Robotics), Ms. Anderson (Business and Office Education), Mr. Brusven (Social Studies) and Mrs. Lind (English) were also enthusiastic about the nice, new building and all it provides for their students. One educator pointed out the skylights that featured diffused lighting that can be controlled by a switch on the wall, no need for the electric lights to even be turned on most days, she said. Another teacher pointed out how comfortable the temperature was in the room although it was quite warm outside, “That’s the geo-thermal cooling system” pointing out that it is not traditional air conditioning.

The new career technology education facility is located adjacent to the Four Winds Community School on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It will expand the educational experience that students have by offering alternative programs. It includes classrooms, lab space for six teachers, bathrooms, storage areas, and offices. It also includes room for expansion as they have added a space that could easily be used to attach an addition to the building, when funding becomes available.
The walls are supported by steel beams, not wood, and made up of sturdy styrafoam forms with a poured form interior that hardens like concrete. A section of the wall in the entranceway is left exposed and visible behind tempered glass to show how the walls of the school were constructed.
The net-zero school will produce more energy than it consumes every year. There are other net-zero schools in the United States, but this new school is the first on tribal land and the first anywhere in North Dakota.

The features of the building that contribute to attaining net-zero status include: photovoltaic (solar) panels, a ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system, high-efficiency water-to-air heat pumps, energy recovery system for free heating and cooling, variable-speed fans and pumps to minimize excess energy use, occupancy sensors for demand-based lighting, LED lighting, solar tubes for free lighting, specially insulated walls and roof, and triple pane windows.
DSGW is the architect for this project, Obermiller Nelson Engineering (ONE) is responsible for mechanical and electrical engineering, and Shingobee Builders is the construction manager.

About DSGW Architects
Established in 1938, DSGW is an architectural firm offering planning, design and interior services to communities of every size and character. Its 35-member team has offices in Duluth, Virginia and Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Over three decades, DSGW has provided services to Native American communities throughout the country.

About ONE
Since 1992, ONE has delivered success to their clients by providing professional, detailed mechanical, electrical and civil building design and coordination. It is a Subchapter S Corporation with seven locations in North Dakota and Minnesota including Alexandria, Bismarck, Duluth, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minneapolis and also Philadelphia, PA. With licensed Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Fire Protection Engineers (FPE), LEED Accredited Professionals and their commissioning services professionals on staff, ONE provides its clients with the highest quality of engineering services.
For more information, visit

About Shingobee
Shingobee is a commercial construction and development company, providing general contracting, project management, and real estate services since 1980. With three offices in Minnesota and North Dakota, they work with clients located through the upper Midwest. For more information, visit

According to the business manager funding for this project came from a number of sources including Federal Impact Aid funding and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux in Minnesota.