White paper outlines role of Bakken workforce housing facilities

By Luke Geiver | September 04, 2013

Workforce housing addresses two issues when managed properly, according to Richard Rothaus, president of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental, a cultural resource management consulting firm. “First, it provides safe, affordable and healthy living conditions for the skilled workers who are essential for successful business,” Rothaus said in a recent white paper titled, “Return on Sustainability: Workforce Housing for People, Planet and Profit.” And second, he added, “it minimizes the impact of booms on existing communities, which is key to both continuing operations and upholding the industry’s responsibility of doing no permanent harm to the locations where it operates.”

The white paper highlights Target Logistics, an Algeco Scotsman Company, and several of the workforce housing operations managed by Target Logistics in North Dakota.

One of the main benefits to workforce housing, according to the paper, is in reducing the environmental footprint of overall company operations in a specific area. Rothaus believes providing independent, self-sufficient infrastructure can help to reduce the impacts of growth on small communities caught up in rapid industrial development. In the paper, he pointed to Target Logistics N.D., wastewater treatment facility. The 180,000 gallons per day facility treats wastewater from the adjacent workforce housing complex and from other company-owned housing units. The facility also treats wastewater for reuse in other purposes, including road dust control and agriculture.  

Effective workforce housing will use many strategies to reduce consumption of resources in the living arrangements of workers, the paper notes. Although many reductions are obvious, including low-flow faucets, showers and toilets; energy-efficient washers and dryers; thermostat controls and energy-efficient lighting, other resource reduction efforts may be equally as important, but less obvious.

Centralized food services helps reduce packing and shipping needs and also provides an opportunity for a greater collection of cardboard, glass and plastics for recycling, “something shift workers in makeshift housing are not inclined to do,” the paper said.

For sustainability, Rothaus said the greenest building is the one that is never built, but when workforce housing is needed, reusable modular structures are always a greener solution that building permanent structures. Target Logistics Muddy River Lodge in N.D., was moved to its current location after serving as a housing facility for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

For the entire white paper, click here.