What once sat as a former brownfield site is now considered home for the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD). This old maintenance garage was recently transformed into a unique office space that represents a place where staff collaboration, connection to nature, the celebration of art, and community education and outreach meet.
On September 30th, the Women’s Environmental Network of Minnesota (WEN) partnered with the CRWD to tour their new office space. Nestled in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul near Hamline Park, the CRWD’s grounds automatically invite visitors and any passersby to sit in their native garden and listen to a bubbling water feature, engage with the water-based educational activity stations and art installations, or even go on a critter hunt! This outdoor space is a mini microcosm that represents a watershed, including an intricate water reuse system that has tree trenches and permeable pavers, and even a solar roof and the first Little Free Library greenroof! Right when you walk up, you understand CRWD’s mission, “To protect, manage, and improve water resources of CRWD and the Mississippi River.”
The indoor space is equally as impressive and focused on sustainable building design. When you first walk in, you are greeted by a beautiful stainless steel stormwater cistern and rainwater harvesting system that collects and treats rainwater to be reused for various purposes including flushing toilets and washing stormwater sample bottles. You also cannot help but notice the beautiful wood covered walls. Siberian Elm, a very aggressive invasive plant that once grew thick at one of CRWD’s wetland restoration sites, was harvested and reused for the building’s interior wall spaces. Scattered across these walls are pieces of art from various local artists inspired by water, namely the Mississippi River.
The office space not only considers the natural environment, it also encourages staff collaboration by offering several gathering spaces, an open floor concept, courtyard, and a large, bright meeting space open to staff and visitors alike. CRWD staff are also excited to now have a garage to store their equipment and fleet, as well as a laboratory space to keep water samples and monitoring equipment organized. It is clear: the District cares as much about their staff and the community as they do about the environment.
Currently, CRWD is working towards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED is the US Green Building Council’s worldwide green building certification program.