NOLS Blog

Browse by Category

jstoddard

Recent Posts

Pourin' it on

By jstoddard on Jan 16, 2012

Uncommonly mild January temperatures are a lucky draw for the concrete crews at the Wyss Campus south of Lander. With foundations over 50% complete, project management is finalizing the sourcing of materials for the superstructures that will bear on new concrete. For our building, the structure, sheathing, and insulation are combined in a building system that incorporates series of "Oreo-like" panels (cream = insulation, cookie = wall sheathing) coverd with additional insulation to achieve a thermally superior building envelope. These structural insulated panels, or SIPs, come in pieces up to 8' x 32' and are erected using a variety of cranes and forklifts. Carpenters afix OSB-clad foam outside the SIP wall before installing any windows or siding. SIPs are also used for flooring and roofs held up by combinations of timbers, laminated beams and columns, and long laminate trusses built up with steel brackets. For all this to work, the foundation must be stout.

And these are- 50% fly ash replacement is double the recycled content of stock concrete in our local plant and leads to strengths exceeding both design specifications and columns formed with standard comperable recipes. By the time the forms come off these walls, we'll be hustling to frame floor supports and hang steel girders for the SIPs that will arrive fresh off the production line. But there is still steel to wire and forms to place before the main classroom building is ready. The total foundation is completed in five pours over a series of weeks with the last pour needing all the wall forms the sub has available. We will likely pour more then 80 cubic yards in the last session, expected with continued mild weather later this week.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

WMI of NOLS Spans the Globe

By jstoddard on Jan 5, 2012

In the beginning WMI training was most widely available to people in the western US. These days you can find a WMI course almost anywhere in the United States and 30 other countries as well*!

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Winter Conditions in Red Canyon

By jstoddard on Dec 13, 2011

The Wyss Campus was crisp at 7:30 this morning as Intermountain Builders' crew rolled back the blankets that keep forms from filling with snow. Even with five or six inches on the ground, work is charging along with insulating and backfilling the first foundation poured, wiring steel to reinforce stem walls at the education center (above), and laying out the grids for columns that will be drilled in the frozen ground for future student housing. Responsible procurement of materials is a LEED-certification priority and a priority for NOLS as well, as identified in our sustainability report. This means we are searching high and low for quality steel produced domestically with best environmental practices and regulation and least embodied energy. The rebar (below) is cast into concrete walls and footings for reinforcement. We anticipate regional sourcing of the heavy structural steel which will be used as girders to support student residences. Even as we watch the weather for a good day to pour, we are preparing the documents to manufacture the structural insulated panels that will serve as structure, insulation and sheathing.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Unusual View

By jstoddard on Dec 1, 2011

A remote campus location poses some interesting challenges- adequate wireless cell and data services are one. In effort to improve a thready signal, we tried a modular tower upon which to mount antennae. The work involved collaboration between NOLS Information Systems and Wyss project management personnel as well as contracting of Lander Valley Tree Care's bucket truck to help fly the sections. The photo above is from about half the overall height of 56 feet. Our efforts have paid off with a dramatic improvement in one carrier's voice signal but we are still struggling to improve data connectivity.


The ride in the bucket allowed a nice view of the foundation hole for our main structure. The right half of the footprint will be a full basement housing thousands of gallons of rainwater storage, composting systems, and mechanical gear like pumps for ground-source heat pumps. The left side, locatons for two classrooms, will be superinsulated slab on grade. Beyond the trailer full of concrete forms, a modest path leads to the sites for five student residences.


We've recycled solar components from our very well-traveled marketing bus to provide temporary power for office trailer outlets, the amplifier for the cell repeater, and some lighting. We attempted to power electric heaters but high draws exceed what the photovoltaic system can provide. Instead of running large diameter powerlines hundreds of feet to supply the heaters, we've borrowed a portable gasoline generator from NOLS RM. The RM Transportation department has continued to be a tremendous asset as they work on refurbishment of a second generator for our use and prepare T-10X for snowplowing duty.

 

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Foundations for Futures

By jstoddard on Dec 1, 2011

A short-lived early fall snowstorm dusted the site but higher then average temperatures have expanded our window for concrete work. Intermountain Builders and Precision Dirtworks, both local Lander contractors, have been coordinating grading for roads and parking and excavation for foundations. Conventional reinforced spread footings are poured between temporary wood forms, then removable steel forms create a cavity for cast in place stem walls.

In the old days, workers would move wet concrete or "mud" around in barrows, then shovel it into forms in a series of short lifts. With a pumper truck and a small fleet of cement trucks bringing a continuous supply of mud, a crew can pour more then 20 cubic yards (more then 77,000 pounds) of mud in a few hours. Green (a.k.a. uncured) concrete needs forms while it cures for the first two or three days, depending on what recipe is used. Amendments are added to increase content of post consumer waste, such as fly-ash, or to alter the range of tolerable temperatures or other environmental conditions required while the concrete cures. Our mix is green in a separate sense- our mix includes 50% recycled fly-ash, a by-product of gas combustion, which dramatically decreases the use of other inredients. It makes a slightly stickier product but is superior in strength. Concrete gains strength as it cures- after seven days, our mix of concrete can hold almost 2000psi and at 56 days, compressive strength increases to 4650psi.

When the forms come off, the fresh foundation walls will be clad with rigid insulation. We're using 100% recycled styrofoam for the majority of our exterior insulation below ground, enough to fill two semi trailers. Dirt will be backfilled against the foam and the finish grade is pitched to ensure rain is drained away from the walls. This foundation will support a two bedroom residence for a facilities staffperson who will live on site as soon as ten months from now.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Stirring up the dust

By jstoddard on Oct 18, 2011

Jeff Kimber and the rest of the Precision Dirt Works crew were chomping at the bit yesterday morning with a number of pieces of heavy equipment on the Wyss Campus site. These tradesmen are the first sub-contractors to be awarded contracts in the initial bid session. Wasting no time, they mobilized over a rainy weekend and were pounding in stakes before 8am. Their work paves the way for foundation specialists who will work with Jeff to form super-insulated footers, stem walls, and reinforced piers that will bear the heavy responsibility of upholding our program. This start is none too soon...


With early fall snow dusting the foothills, time is of the essence. Concrete requires temperatures of around freezing or higher to cure. As overnight lows dip below freezing, there is a sense of urgency to pour the mud and get it struck off before winter knocks again. Once concrete foundations are finished, the progress will roll right along with delivery of structural steel girders and mounting brackets, SIP panels, and more dirt-moving equipment to trench for power and water supply. Thankfully, the fall weather has been typical- patures are greening up again after the first fall moisture and temperatures are forecast in the upper 50's slated for this week, providing picture perfect building conditions at our site and throughout the front range of the Wind River mountains.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Wyss Plans Draw a Crowd

By jstoddard on Aug 30, 2011


A few dozen neighbors and friends stopped in the Noble Lobby last Wednesday to view twenty illustrations depicting our plans for our new Fremont County property. Twice that number of NOLS staff also participated. A representative group of committee members were on hand to explain the main details of the project and the developments currently in progress. As guests munched on snacks and looked at site plans, elevation drawings, and photos of the existing conditions on site, they consistently expressed appreciation that the parcel had found a single owner and that the land would remain intact.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus Groundbreaking Scheduled

By jstoddard on Jul 18, 2011

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus is scheduled for 10am on 7/26. The event will host the former land owners, Dr. and Mrs. Charles McMahon, and WMI and NOLS administrators as well as project design team members, project management staff, and neighbors. Design for the campus has been ongoing since NOLS closed on the property at the end of last year.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes, WIlderness Medicine Campus, Wyss, WMI