The Whitefish School District has begun building a Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (CSE) which will serve the community as a place to practice a more sustainable lifestyle.
The CSE will so be a state-of-the-art innovation education center that will provide applied learning experiences for kindergarten through 12th grade students in energy, agriculture, forestry, natural resources and entrepreneurship.
Not only will the center provide resources for students but adults in the community as well, helping them to become more sustainable in everyday life.
“They can learn how to build a solar array on their home, they can attend a weekend workshop on permaculture, they can develop the skills, competencies, disposition to live a more sustainable life, and that’s really what it’s about," said Director of Curriculum Assessment and Professional Development Ryder Delaloye.
He told MTN News that the building will be unique and truly one of a kind. It will be the very first net-zero building in the entire state of Montana, meaning it won’t have to rely on fossil fuels to supply energy to power the building.
“It relies on unique systems such as climate battery, geothermal and solar arrays. With our attached greenhouse students will be able to grow food year-round and that food will go back into the cafeterias of the middle school, the elementary school and the high school," Delaloye said.
Delaloye wants the new center to serve as a model for the Whitefish community and beyond to influence people to build more sustainability, "this project is intended to become a vehicle for sustainable change in the Whitefish community.”
The center is already doing just that as the school district has influenced the Whitefish City Council to evaluate how it can be more sustainable moving forward.
“What we see going on with the school district, I think is exemplary. And so the city is partnering with the school district to do some of the same sorts of things," Councilor Richard Hildner said.
"To look at our fleet, our building energy consumption, how we manage our wastewater treatment plant, which is the biggest energy consumer in the city and how we conduct our city operations," he added.
The Whitefish School District and the City of Whitefish seem to be moving towards more sustainable practices in everything they do.
Once the center is completed there will be native grass meadows, a compost area, an experimental forest and outdoor classes added among many other features.