NOLS' Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus Earns LEED Platinum Certification


 High Plains Architects of Billings, Mont. announced today that the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus has achieved LEED® Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation v2009 rating system. The building, owned by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), is the first LEED Platinum project in Lander, Wyo. and the fifth in the state of Wyoming. It is the sixth LEED Platinum project for High Plains Architects.

Located 12 miles southeast of Lander, the one-story, 11,000-square-foot educational facility was designed by High Plains Architects in 2011. MBA Construction, along with numerous local consultants and subcontractors, played an integral role in the project, completing construction in late 2012. The campus, home to NOLS’ growing Wilderness Medicine Institute’s (WMI) programming, includes classrooms, meeting spaces, offices, a student commons, and kitchen and dining facilities. Additionally, there is 4,500-square-feet of housing for 32 students and four staff. The design supports a dynamic curriculum built around scenarios, practical experience, and learning in the natural context while complementing the surrounding landscape attributes.

“We are pleased and excited about this newest NOLS facility,” said NOLS Executive Director John Gans. “Dedicated to and optimized for wilderness medicine instruction, the building features expansive classroom space, daylighting and easy access to the outdoors where WMI’s scenario-based instruction happens. The smallest details have been considered right down to where the students are going to leave their muddy boots when they return to the classroom after hands-on practice. The high-performance features of the building allow NOLS to live our values and provide high-impact education with low impact on the environment.”

Consistent with NOLS’s environmental sustainability goals, the project is designed for durability and water and resource conservation. Through an integrated design process, the project achieved ambitious goals by utilizing many sustainable design strategies: using salvaged, recycled, and healthy materials, natural daylighting and ventilation, passive solar design, a superinsulated envelope, a ground-source heat pump, radiant floor heating/cooling, composting toilets, an 18.8 kW solar array, and a 55,000 gallon rainwater collection system for the campus’ native landscape irrigation.

“Every once in a while, a rare opportunity comes along to work with a client who not only shares your values but challenges you to strive for more ambitious goals,” said project architect Ed Gulick. “Not only were we all committed to developing an incredibly high performance campus, but we were charged with designing a building that harmonized with the amazing surroundings and possessed a certain ‘drawing power’.”

The building uses 54 percent less energy from utilities and 62 percent less water for interior fixtures than the building code-compliant reference case. Education about many of the campus’ features is included in a building orientation program for students. With LEED Platinum certification, the educational facility has extended NOLS’s educational offerings and demonstrates a minimum impact ethic in the front country. The new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus is making it possible for NOLS to expand its offerings of the highest quality of outdoor education and wilderness medicine training available.

“I really appreciated how well thought out the conservation of energy and resources were,” wrote 2013 Wilderness EMT graduate Marisa Cologgi of her experience on the new campus. “Everything down to the clean up after meals made everything very seamless and organized. That structure makes these stressful (but fun!) courses much more enjoyable.”