“SCCA is my way to give back and help grow our local business community, which is key to keeping Seward as a sustainable neighborhood.”
SCCA Member: Tracy Singleton, Birchwood Café

SCCA Tours New Maintenance Facility

On Wednesday, February 15th, members of the SCCA took a tour of the new Hiawatha Maintenance Facility. This complex is the main office and yard location of the City of Minneapolis Public Works, which provides a number of city infrastructure services for residents. Completed in 2010, the Hiawatha Maintenance Facility became the first LEED platinum municipal building in the State of Minnesota.

Originally used in the early 1900s as a sickbay for ill fire department horses, the site developed over the century into a crowded space of 18 buildings that totaled 105,000 square feet. The new facility was able to reduce its footprint by 43% and evolved into a single, functional space… that includes 32,000 square feet of office space and 26,000 square feet of workshop and interior storage. This efficient use of space allows room for future expansion if it becomes necessary.

In order to achieve the highest standards in LEED certification, the Hiawatha Maintenance Facility stressed three areas of focus:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Adaptive Re-Use,
  • and Storm Water Management.

As a result of these focal points, the completed building is 60% more energy efficient than buildings built simply to code, 100% of demolition concrete, brick, and asphalt rubble was crushed and reused on site as an aggregated base, and 100% of all storm water run-off is managed on site.

The Hiawatha Maintenance Facility uses current sustainable, energy efficient systems as well as several creative techniques that reduce energy consumption. Located on site is a geothermal system that contains more than seventy five wells and extends 250 feet into the ground. This system uses the consistent year-round temperature deep underground, around 55 degrees, to heat the facility during the winter and cool it in the summer. In addition, 95% of the interior of the building has access to natural daylight, reducing the need for electric lights in the building. Light and motion sensors control the fixtures and determine how brightly they shine.

By re-using existing building materials, the facility was able to divert excess waste from entering a landfill, as well as add a unique flair and style to several portions of the building and surrounding site. The most visible adaptive re-use of a material is the fencing that lines the perimeter of the site. Donated by Hennepin County, steel decking from the old Lowry Bridge was transformed into the fencing material. Also on site is a fueling station canopy made from re-used structural steel and concrete. The bathroom and locker rooms have benches that are made from shredded dollar bills that are no longer used by the federal bank. The shredded bills are mixed with a non-toxic epoxy and compacted into a hard, durable surface material.

In order to reduce water pollution and surface water run-off that could enter the sewer system, an intricate on-site water management system was developed. By using crushed concrete from the original buildings on site, a permeable surface is created that allows the water to infiltrate into the ground, be cleaned naturally, and enter back into the water table. Existing steam tunnels were re-purposed to act as an underground retention system that allows excess water to be stored during periods of heavy precipitation. Rain gardens and bio-swales further help manage and clean storm water, as well as adding landscaping to the site that is drought-resistant.

Board member and longtime Seward business owner, Rick Siewert of Siewert Cabinet & Fixture Manufacturing was involved in the construction of the facility through Wood from the Hood. They used reclaimed lumber from the site to create wainscoting on the walls around the main level office area. Members enjoyed seeing all the sustainable aspects of the project, and the city’s effort to support local businesses in their construction process.


Reclaimed wood has been used as a reception desk.


Steel decking from the old Lowry Bridge used as fencing.


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