Friday, March 26, 2010

The Greenest Building in the US is a Monastery

BY ARIEL SCHWARTZ, Fast Company

The greenest building in the U.S isn't a fancy hotel, apartment complex, or office building. It's a monastery. The US Green Building Council recently awarded the Benedictine Women of Madison’s Holy Wisdom Monastery a Platinum LEED rating with 63 out 69 possible points--the most points of any certified building in the country.

The Sisters at the 30,000 foot, two-story monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin never intended to set a LEED record. Apparently, they have always prized sustainability--just take a look at their restoration of 95 acres of farmland to prairie and their project to dredge a glacial lake that had been previously been filled with silt.

Of course, the monastery still had to work hard to set the record. Some of the ultra-green features in the Hoffman LLC-designed building include a geothermal heating and cooling system, a photovoltaic system on the Chapel roof, windows with special glazing that allow for light and climate control, and the restoration and reuse of old pipe organs and bells. Almost 100% of the 60,000 square foot old Benedictine House was also recycled or reused in the building process. Not bad for a bunch of Sisters with a dream.

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