Fort Totten School to be First Net Zero School on Tribal Land in the Country

Fort Totten, ND – Fort Totten Public Schools is planning to build the first net-zero school on tribal land in the country. A net-zero school is an energy-efficient building that produces more energy than it consumes every year.


There are other net zero schools in the United States, but this new school will be the first on tribal land and the first in North Dakota. The new facility will include classrooms, lab space for six teachers, bathrooms, storage areas, and offices. It will be located adjacent to the Four Winds Community School on the Spirit Lake Reservation. Construction is getting under way this month, and is scheduled for completion prior to the 2017-18 school year. There will be a public ground blessing on October 19th at 1:00pm. The ceremony will be led by tribal leaders in the community followed by refreshments.

“The new school will expand the educational experience that students have at Four Winds High School by offering an alternative program and career technology education,” stated Jeff Olson, Superintendent of Fort Totten Public Schools. “This building is about the future. We’re not only preparing our students for the future, but we’re also designing this building for the future by using the earth respectfully and efficiently to power the school.”

There are several features of the building that will contribute to attaining net-zero status. These features 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.