UMD Students Benefit from Sustainable Classroom

UMD Outdoor Classroom is Energy Efficient

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The songs of chirping birds and crunching snow are just samples of what UMD students hear during class in the Bagley Nature Area.

In the area, you’ll find a “green” classroom where students learn in the most natural way possible.

“We’re in the northwoods up here at UMD and we want our students to be learning outdoors as well as in,” said Mindy Granley, Sustainability Director at UMD.

The sustainable classroom opened in 2010 and has since won many awards for the standards it meets.

“The solar panels on the roof produce about 4 megawatts of energy each year,” said Granley.

The greenest part of the building? The insulation. The walls have 16 inches and the roof has 14.

The panels the building is made of actually fit together like legos.

“It creates a really tight building envelope and that means we need less energy to heat this building,” said Granley.

A green roof with plants that flower, attracts birds and butterflies while treating storm water run off.

The building reduces 90% of energy needs and is built with local, natural and recyclable materials.

“The timber beams are recycled from a grain elevator and the basswood is untreated from Wisconsin,” said Granley.

Mainly biology students take classes here, but other majors have enjoyed the natural environment as well.

“So the classroom supports student learning whether the students are working on something in the pond, or out in the nature area, or working in the forest,” said Granley.

The pond has been a source for research for decades.

“They can go get their samples, bring them back here to the classroom. They can look at them under a microscope,” explained Granley.

But, it’s not all about work.

“They like having a little bonfire out there, having a home base for learning or exploring out in the nature area,” said Granley.

Long before the classroom was here; the university and students used the Bagley Nature Area for research and recreation.

“No matter what your age is you’ll find something fun to do. You can hike or walk or ski and just enjoy the nature,” said Granley.

Runners, hikers and skiers have filled the trails since 1951.

“I think when you get outdoors and you enjoy being outside and you can start to notice a few more things you feel more connected to your environment,” said Granley.

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