Brunton Architects used this recycled barn wood throughout its office redesign, to reduce material use but also for its look.


Location North Mankato, MN
Size 5,000 ft²
Completed 2012
Program Meeting spaces, offices, apartments
Awards City Center Partnership City Design Award of Excellence for New Construction under $2 million

Brunton Architects built its offices in North Mankato, Minnesota, with environmental care through energy-saving initiatives and what it calls “light green” building technologies. The project, completed in early 2012, involved ground-floor offices and second-floor apartments and was a new build on a lot that had been empty since 1982 when a fire claimed an old community drug store.

Reuse, Recycle

Brunton Architects adopted a mantra of “reuse and recycle,” and reclaimed barn wood was used throughout the interior. “It has imperfections in it and dark spots and some old nail holes,” says principal Corey Brunton. The vinyl plank flooring and carpeting throughout the building have a high percentage of recycled content, and the recycling continues into the lobby, where reclaimed granite was used for the reception desk (No.1). The most impressive reuse in the project was the refurbished light fixtures from a past strip mall remodel project (No.2). “When we went into an interior remodel of one of our strip mall projects, we salvaged the fixtures, knowing that some day there would be an opportunity to use them rather than throw them in a landfill,” Brunton says. This saved around $14,000 in fixtures and made use of an old product.


Architect Brunton Architects
Client Brunton Architects

Material Camouflage

The architectural- and interior-design team at Brunton chose to camouflage the new space so it would blend in with its neighboring buildings, paying attention to details as small as the type of interior brick, which resembles the brick inside the adjacent buildings (No.3). “It’s a historically significant infill project,” Brunton says, “where the buildings on both sides, as well as the historical character of Belgrade Avenue, were respected, and the architectural elements were included with rhythm, repetition, scale, and form.


Certification Not applicable
Materials Recycled-content flooring, refurbished light fixtures, reclaimed granite and barn wood, local limestone, brick, and quartz
Water Low-flow faucets and toilets
Energy LED lighting, 14 kW photovoltaic array, natural daylighting, skylights

Slashing Wattage

Brunton took the 50-watt halogen incandescent bulbs out of the refurbished fixtures and re-lamped them with 6-watt LED lamps. “Not only did we reduce the wattage of each lamp by 44 watts, we significantly reduced the amount of cooling required for the office relative to that,” Brunton says. “We saved 1,716 watts of power.” Large skylights and oversized windows were installed in the second-floor apartments so that artificial lighting isn’t needed anywhere in the residences except the restrooms (No.4). By far the biggest energy-saver is the 14-kilowatt photovoltaic array, which produces more than half the power needed for the office (No.5). “Probably approaching close to three quarters,” Brunton adds. “On the weekends our meter rolls backwards. We are dumping power back to the grid.”

Light Green

The architects have adopted what they like to call “light green” building technologies, “items that don’t have to cost an awful lot of money to incorporate,” Brunton explains. The building has on-site recycling, and Brunton’s team looked at environmental design issues, such as making sure there’s proper solar orientation, shelter from the northwest winds, a high-quality window system, ample insulation in the building, and low-VOC paints. “It doesn’t have to be expensive to get done,” he says. “It is our responsibility to our children to assure them they have the ability to use the Earth they deserve.”