Billings, Montana


Northern Plains Resource Council & WORC


8,300 square feet



Project Highlights

LEED Platinum; Energy Star; Seattle AIA WMIG 2008 (rendering credit: Jim Collins) (Photos: Tim Struck)


The 'Home on the Range' (HOTR) building in Billings' Southside neighborhood is a reflection of its owner: a pioneer with strong sustainability values that isn't afraid to 'push the envelope.'  Home to the Northern Plains Resource Council and its parent organization, the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), ‘Home on the Range’ reinvents an 8,300 SF windowless 1940 concrete block grocery store into a professional office building and one of the most sustainable buildings in the region.


Northern Plains was working out of a rented space on historic Montana Avenue when they became increasingly aware that they needed more space.  They also decided they wanted to own their office and saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate and live their values, as well as to contribute to the revitalization of downtown and the southside.  Never one to do anything small, they set the goal of achieving LEED Platinum.  Since moving, Northern Plains and WORC have seen increased membership and better staff retention as the result of having more satisfied employees due to a better overall work environment. 


From the beginning, the client was in need of an inexpensive building.  And while they wanted to pursue LEED, there were moments of apprehension since there was not much experience with deconstruction, commissioning, and waste management in the region.  However, while the entire project presented countless challenges due to encountering many 'firsts,' PV's, solar hot water heating, composting, permeable paving, and recycled content to name a few, the result was a successful collaboration that raised the bar for high performance building in the high plains.

Green building strategies include: a well-insulated shell; extensive daylighting through new clerestory monitors and light shelves at new perimeter windows; energy-efficient radiant floor heating and evaporative cooling; abundant use of salvaged, recycled-content, locally available, and low-VOC materials; construction and demolition waste diversion exceeding 90%; 10kW photovoltaic system and solar hot water panel; composting toilets; permeable pavement (first permitted use in Billings); and drought-tolerant native landscaping.  For heating, cooling, and lighting, the building uses only 21% of what the new office building model energy code projects. Native landscaping requires little irrigation but brings new life to the neighborhood.


The first thing someone notices about Home on the Range: its unique entry towers.  High Plains Architects designed it with a stance that engages the community and references local geologic features. Not known to be shy, the building reflects its owner by breaking out of the box and engaging the surroundings instead of being static and rectilinear, to symbolize a progressive, active organization. 

Home on the Range includes separate, open office spaces for both organizations, numerous smaller, private offices spaces, a welcoming reception areas at the heart of the building, a kitchen and cafe lounge, a conference room and public meeting/presentation space fully equipped with multi-media capability, restrooms with showers, and an outdoor patio. Additionally, the building’s proximity to downtown allows for accessibility to meetings and events.


The clients were seeking a building design that allowed them to ‘live their values' and become the physical embodiment of the organization.  Home on the Range has done that and more: not only did it provide the organization with a recognizable 'face' but it gave them a physical reference in the public eye.  It reclaimed a derelict building and has helped revitalize a ragged neighborhood as well.  Furthermore, it was recognized for its sustainable efforts by being the first building in Montana to receive LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council.  Notably, it was the 41st LEED Platinum building in the world and 4th highest scoring at the time.
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