Photo Diary: Heartland hosts Leadership Madison

Participants of the Leadership Madison program visited Heartland headquarters this morning for a presentation and tour. Communications Manager Ann Hyland met with the group to discuss Heartland, public power and our LEED Platinum facility.

Leadership Madison is coordinated by the Madison Chamber of Commerce, designed to cultivate leadership skills, encourage local involvement and increase civic awareness of issues facing our community and the surrounding area. Heartland is a regular sponsor of the program and several employees have participated in the past.

Today’s session, titled “Sparking the Leader in You,” focused on energy supply. In addition to visiting Heartland, the group toured East River Electric Cooperative in Madison and Sioux Valley Energy in Colman, SD.


Waste less with jeans made from recyclables

This spring, municipal recycling programs across the United States can say they had a hand—or bottle, rather—in the creation of a new collection of denim from Levi’s® brand jeans. Levi’s® recently introduced their new Waste<Less™ collection that incorporates a minimum of 20% post-consumer waste, including recycled bottles and food trays, in each pair of jeans. The collection, available in the Spring 2013, will be available for both men and women, and represents the next chapter in the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainable design.

Photo courtesy Levi’s® brand.

“By adding value to waste, we hope to change the way people think about recycling, ultimately incentivizing them to do more of it,” said James Curleigh, global president of the Levi’s® brand. “This collection proves you don’t have to sacrifice quality, comfort or style to give an end a new beginning.”

According to Levi’s®, the Waste<Less™ collection will utilize over 3.5 million recycled bottles or an average of eight 12 to 20-ounce bottles per jean. Along with black food trays,  brown beer bottles, green soda bottles and clear water bottles will be collected from municipal recycling programs across the U.S., sorted according to color and crushed into flakes. It will then be made into a polyester fiber, which will be combined with cotton fiber and finally woven with the traditional cotton yarn used to create Levi’s® denim.

“With this collection, we’re doing our own small part by taking waste and making something new from it,” added Curleigh. “We don’t just want to reduce our impact on the environment, we want to leave it better than we found it.”

The Waste<Less™ collection is only the latest initiative from Levi’s® to do more with less. In 2009, Levi Strauss & Co. introduced “A Care Tag for our Planet, an initiative to educate consumers on how to clean their clothes with less environmental impact as well as encouraging them to donate old jeans to Goodwill rather than throw them out. More recently, Levi’s® developed and implemented a new Water<Less™ technique, which reduces the amount of water used in the finishing process by up to 96% for some styles. Levi’s® reports the Water<Less™ technique saved over 360 million liters of water this year alone.

“We are committed to making products in ways that are good for people and better for our planet,” said Curleigh.

Levi’s® new initiative echoes Heartland’s commitment to environmental stewardship, as embodied in our LEED Platinum headquarters. Our green facility was designed not only to save energy, but also to have a minimal impact on the environment. The building uses one third less water than a similar building and includes unique features such as ceiling panels made from re-used wood bleacher seats and recycled tile and PaperStone countertops. To learn more, view our building brochure (5 MB PDF) or visit

Levi’s® contributed to this article.

Heartland staff to participate in Plain Green Conference

Sioux Falls Green Project, Koch Hazard Architects and South Dakota State University (SDSU) have teamed up once again to bring the Plain Green Conference to Sioux Falls, SD  September 14. Founded in 2008 by Koch Hazard and SDSU, Plain Green is “where innovators and change-makers gather to learn and connect around green design, healthcare, education, business and ideas.” The conference and marketplace features a full day of keynote speakers, workshops, networking opportunities and green exhibitors under one roof at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Sioux Falls.

This year’s “Plain Awesome” speakers will cover a number of green-related topics, ranging from green economics to simplified lifestyles. The conference will feature two opening and closing keynote speakers, James Kunstler and Susan S. Szenasy. Kunstler is the author of The Geography of Nowhere and many more polemical books. His latest book, Too Much Magic, questions various technologies heralded as “magic bullet” solutions to the energy crisis. His address, “Can America Remain Civilized?” is scheduled for 8:00 am on September 14.

Szenasy is the Editor in Chief of METROPOLIS, the award-winning NYC-based magazine of architecture, culture and design. She currently sits on the boards of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, the Center for Architecture Advisory Board and the Landscape Architecture Foundation. Her presentation, “Sustainable Design and Innovation,” is scheduled for 4:00 pm on September 14.

Heartland General Manager Mike McDowell and Manager of Community & Economic Development Russell Olson are scheduled to participate in a Renewable Energy Panel as part of the conference. The panel will be led by Mitch Krebs, director of public policy for ethanol producer POET. The group will focus on renewable energy aspects specific to the state of South Dakota, including providing a general overview of renewable energy in the region, ethanol’s outlook, information on photovoltaic technologies and wind energy, and the future of renewable energy in the state. It will also examine the historical and current status of wind and solar energy, annual average wind speed, biomass resources and solar resources. The panel will take place on Friday, September 14 at 2:30 pm.

The 2012 Plain Green Conference kicks off with an opening party at the Museum of Visual Materials, also in downtown Sioux Falls. Formally home to Consolidated Tank Line, the restored Museum of Visual Materials is an interactive learning facility and South Dakota’s first LEED Platinum building. The opening party begins September 13 at 6:00 pm.

For more information about the Plain Green Conference, visit http://plaingreenorg.

London 2012 Olympics conclude in energy efficient facilities

The London 2012 Olympics concluded yesterday with the Closing Ceremonies held in Olympic Stadium. The Stadium was the heart of the 500-acre Olympic park, constructed for the world competition and home to nine new sports facilities. The London 2012 Organizing Committee and the Olympic Delivery Authority aimed to build the new facilities with energy efficient, sustainable and recyclable designs, and several of the facilities will soon be deconstructed with some parts of the buildings to be used for other projects.

“In building the venues and staging the Games, we have ‘raised the bar’ for both the construction industry and future large-scale events. In areas as diverse as sustainability, health and safety, equality and inclusion, and business, jobs and training, we have set new standards to which others can now aspire.” — Olympic Delivery Authority

Here’s a look at the Olympic venues and London’s efforts to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle.’

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium at night with fireworks. Photo courtesy

Olympic Stadium was the host to both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as most of the track and field events. Designed by Populous, the stadium is innovative, flexible and the most sustainable ever built for an Olympic Games. The stadium’s permanent lower tier (cap. 25,000) sits within a bowl in the ground, minimizing the use of construction materials. Project officials created the bowl by excavating 800,000 tons of soil, most of which was cleaned and reused elsewhere in Olympic Park. The stadium’s temporary steel and concrete upper tier (cap. 55,000) will be dismantled after the Games.

The stadium was constructed using around 10,000 tons of steel–significantly less than in other Olympic stadiums. The top ring was built using surplus gas pipes. Athletic facilities within the Stadium include changing rooms, medical support facilities and a warm-up track. Amenities such as restrooms and catering were temporarily located outside the stadium in order to keep the upper tier temporary.

With the Games complete, the Stadium will continue to accommodate a number of different sporting, cultural and community events.


The Velodrome and Olympic Rings. Photo courtesy

The iconic Velodrome is arguably the most sustainable venue of the 2012 Olympic Games. Sustainable choices were made whenever possible, including Forest Stewardship Council certified wood on the indoor cycling track and a completely natural ventilation system.

According to the Official London 2012 Website, the Velodrome’s designers worked closely with a design panel to “tailor the track geometry, temperature and environmental conditions with the aim of creating a record-breaking track.” The building’s design incorporates a 100% naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning, and an abundance of natural light, reducing the amount of energy needed for artificial lighting. Its cable-net roof (‘strung’ with steel cables in the manner of a tennis racket) reduced the mount of required construction materials and collects rainwater, reducing main water usage by more than 70%.

The Velodrome will soon be handed over to the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to form the heart of a new Lee Valley VeloPark, which will also include the Games’ reconfigured BMX track, a new mountain bike track and a new road cycle circuit. Open to the public and suitable for riders of all ages and abilities, the new VeloPark will combine cycling facilities across all disciplines to create one cycling ‘hub.’

Copper Box

With sustainability as the leading priority, the Copper Box was designed and built to achieve annual energy savings by up to 40% and reduce water use by up to 40%.  The roof, fitted with 88 light pipes that allow natural daylight into the facility, reduces the demand for artificial lighting as well as collects rainwater to be used for waste management. The venue’s retractable seating can change the floor size, easily facilitating a wide range of indoor competitions for future use.

Photo courtesy

The Copper Box got its name due to its top half: 3,000 square meters of external copper cladding — mostly recycled. The glazed concourse level illuminates the venue at night, allowing visitors to see inside the building.

Basketball Arena

The recyclable PVC material covering the Basketball Arena. Photo courtesy

London’s Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary venues ever built for an Olympic Games. Made up of 1,000 tons of steel and covered in 20,000 square meters of recyclable PVC fabric, the arena is a visually impressive structure within the Olympic Park skyline.

To make the most of space and resources, the Basketball Arena shared some facilities with the Velodrome and BMX Track, including two courts and areas for catering, security and waste management. With the Games complete, the arena will be taken down with parts of it to be reused and relocated elsewhere.

Water Polo Arena

Built alongside the Aquatics Center, the temporary Water Polo Arena is the first dedicated water polo venue to be built for an Olympic Games. Similar in design to the Basketball Arena, the Water Polo Arena utilizes recyclable, environmentally-friendly PVC and materials which can be easily removed and reused after the Games. The venue has a capacity of 5,000, holds a 37-meter pool and smaller training pool, and features an inflatable roof and a unique sloping design.

The temporary Water Polo Arena situated next to the much larger, permanent Aquatics Center. Photo courtesy

Energy Centre and Primary Substation

Both non-competitive ‘venues,’ the Olympic Park’s Energy Centre and Primary Substation are structural examples in green design, similar to the competition venues.

Energy Centre. Photo courtesy

The Energy Centre provided a quarter of the electricity and all of the hot water and heating to Olympic Park during the Games. It was designed with flexibility in mind, with capabilities for increased capacity and new technology once the area is further developed in the future. The building also features biomass boilers which use sustainable fuels such as woodchip and gas to generate heat and deliver low-carbon energy.

For the construction of the Primary Substation, contractors reused material from the demolition of nearby buildings and included a ‘brown roof’ to attract wildlife and help enhance the area’s biodiversity.

Primary Substation. Photo courtesy

Architects of the Primary Substation opted for dark bricks, as opposed to traditional red bricks, for the structure’s exterior, reflecting the site’s industrial heritage and creating a sense of solidity in regard’s to the building’s role as a “cornerstone of the Park’s new utilities infrastructure that will underpin the future developments of the area.” Along with the Energy Centre, the Primary Substation helped power the construction of Olympic Park and will continue to power and support future developments.

The London Olympic Games provided a multitude of historic athletic performances, but will also leave a legacy as the most energy efficient Olympics to date, thanks to its energy efficient, sustainable and recyclable facilities. The buildings met standards comparable to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified buildings in the United States, with achievements in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Energy efficient design and high performance green buildings are a growing trend in the United States (such as Heartland’s own headquarters, built to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the highest honor in green building design) and around the world–a trend that Heartland strongly supports.

Maroney Commons to celebrate one-year anniversary

Maroney Commons is hosting an outdoor dance featuring live music, a cookout and games to commemorate the organization’s one-year anniversary.  The celebration is scheduled for Friday, August 17 in the parking lot just north of the facility at 103 S Main Street in Howard, SD.

A Commons Cookout will kick off the evening from 5-8 pm featuring $5 meals of burgers from Howard Cold Storage, Dornbusch baked beans and chips. Minute to Win It games begin at 6 pm where participants can race against the clock to win fun prizes. At 9 pm, South Dakota band There and Lost Again will take the stage for an off-the-street dance. Admission to the dance is $10 and includes an entry to win a Las Vegas vacation package. All ages are welcome to join in on the celebration. Call (605) 772-4700 for more information or see the event poster below.

Located on the Rural Learning Center campus, Maroney Commons is a one-of-a-kind green facility featuring a conference and training center, 24-room hotel, and full-service restaurant and bar. Featuring geothermal heating and cooling, a photovoltaic cell array, and a vertical access wind turbine, the facility is capable of being awarded LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Maroney Commons hosted its Grand Opening ceremony in August of 2011. Key speakers included U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, USDA Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager, SD Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks, and Heartland General Manager Mike McDowell, among others. Heartland first began its partnership with the Rural Learning Center in 2001 and awarded a $1 million HELP loan in February of 2011 to help with the construction of the facility. The Heartland Discovery Corridor on the main floor of the Maroney Commons recognizes Heartland’s commitment to the project and features monitors and other informative displays sharing facts about the building, the energy it consumes and produces, and other energy-related information.