The Skokomish Tribe Community Center “one of the largest solar projects in West Coast”

The Skokomish Tribe have unveiled their solar powered community centre with more than 400 solar panels on its roof, which is expected to produce more energy than it uses.

The building – based in Shelton in Washington State, US – is likely “one of the largest solar projects in the state, if not the West Coast”, according to Yvonne Oberly, chief executive officer of the Skokomish Tribe.

The panels are expected to produce about 129,000 kilowatts of energy a year – enough energy to power 11 single family homes.

Dave Nichols, the Skokomish Tribe’s construction project manager, said: “In a way, the tribe will be a utility producer since it’s producing more than 100,000 kilowatts of energy. Electricity for the building will be provided by the electrical utility but power generated by the solar panels will be sent back to the grid. Any excess power produced will be purchased back from the utility company.”

The tribe plans to sell any excess solar energy that’s generated to Mason County Public Utility District No. 1, which serves approximately more than 5,200 electric customers.

Designed to promote community wellness and bring together the tribe’s youth and elders, the community centre houses a gymnasium, a meeting hall, a commercial kitchen, a dining room, a fitness room, a computer lab, and space for culture and art classes.

The 22,000-square-foot building was designed by Seattle-based architectural firm, 7 Directions. The firm specialise in designing climate responsive, green architecture and to achieve more with less, a fundamental principle of sustainable design.

LED lighting is used to provide more energy cost savings, plus the building is constructed with pre-manufactured foam-filled panels that provide highly efficient insulation. The building is adorned with cedar planks that frame doorways and windows. More than a dozen cedar logs up to 24 inches in diameter greet visitors in three entryways and 34 cedar logs inside the building provide support for the exposed roof trusses.

The new community centre will be the main gathering space for the community and is part of an overall master plan to develop a tribal center. It is also designed to be an emergency evacuation center during a major disaster. The backup generator can operate for at least seven days at full power. The building is above flood elevation as well.

Daniel Glenn, Principal of 7 Directions, said: “It’s [The Skokomish Tribe Community Center] slated to potentially be the first net-zero building on tribal land in the United States.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, and entertainments. Rosa also works as a psychic, counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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