The first renovated 'living building' in the world is here in MN

solar panels on the lawn outside of a building
The solar garden at the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn.
Courtesy of HGA and Wolf Ridge, photo by Chad Holder

Wolf Ridge is an environmental learning center in Finland, Minn., that has been teaching students and families about the natural world for 50 years. When they needed to renovate a dormitory on their campus, they turned the project into something really special.

The Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge is now a “living building.” It was the first renovation project in the world to receive the highest environmental certification of its kind: full Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute.

To talk more about the unique, cutting-edge sustainability features of the MAC Lodge, host Cathy Wurzer was joined by Pete Smerud, the executive director of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.

Smerud said that the project was animated by a simple but powerful question: “Can we give more than we take?”

He walked Wurzer through what exactly a living building is, how the design of the MAC Lodge took climate change into account, and how people can implement the sustainability principles of the project in their own homes.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Correction (Feb. 14, 2022): This story has been updated to reflect that the MAC Lodge is the first living building in the world that's been renovated.

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