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Wadena's new utility building a showroom for efficiency

The new utility building in Wadena includes a 160 foot by 80 foot shop area with garage doors on either end. The entire building is lit by LED lights and is warmed by in-floor heat. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 2
The new Wadena Utility Department is complete and recently hosted an open house to the community. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

An open house for the new Wadena utility building on County Road 4 allowed staff to show off the buildings efficiencies and allow the community to improve their own energy use.

The new building sports a 80 foot by 60 foot shop area and 50 foot by 60 foot office. It also has a 20 foot by 160 foot lean to for additional storage of items that can remain outdoors. Walking through the shop area guests noticed the entire building is lit by LED lights that are motion activated. Inside are about 18 spaces for vehicles and equipment to be parked.

The building has floor heating, something their old building on the corner of Highway 10 and Highway 71 lacked. The off-peak heating system and heat pump system heats and cools the building, running about 200-300 percent efficiency. Each room in the building has its own coils to allow for temperature control to each room, a little more high tech than just closing and opening an air vent.

"We're very happy with the building," said Joe Peters, energy services coordinator for the city. "We built with very good standards."

The roomy shop area allows city staff to keep certain equipment on trailers, rather than having to unload and reload regularly as was the case with some equipment in the past. And the location allows vehicles and equipment to drive in one and out never fearing traffic that may be passing by. Wadena Electric and Water Supervisor Dave Evans said in the former building public traffic was a concern.

"Every day we had to back out over a city sidewalk," Evans said. And with a liquor store and recycle bins nearby, it was becoming a high traffic area at the former site, which has now been demolished to make way for Hwy 10 expansion.

The new location is about 10 percent bigger, but looking at utility costs you'd never guess it as it uses almost half the energy as the former office building.

Nine employees work out of the building. Other locations the utilities were using will still be used for storage for now. That could change if someone is interested in purchasing the properties.

This building was bid to cost about $2.25 million.

Guests that visited the building went home with free LED light bulbs to help lower their energy footprint in the community.