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LEED-certified buildings are all the rage right now; and they should be. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is designated by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). To become LEED certified, your building must meet a specific criteria set by the USGBC. Depending on the type of building you’re building or renovating, certain criteria and points must be met in the areas of:

  •  Location and planning
  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation and design process
  • Regional Priority

Within these 8 categories points are awarded for proper and efficient execution. Based in the LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations version 2.2 (LEED v2.2) there were 69 possible points for the Holy Wisdom monastery in Middleton, WI to gain. Out of those 69, they scored an impressive 63, giving them a platinum LEED rating. This isn’t the first or only LEED-certified building in Wisconsin. It seems they’ve got a thing for going green.

What makes the Holy Wisdom Monastery building, home to the Benedictine Women of Madison, LEED approved is thanks to the way in which construction was performed, materials used in the renos and the environmental impact of the building as a whole.

According to BuildingGreen.com, “the project developed in line with the Sisters’ mission, which encompasses a commitment to environmental stewardship. ‘For us, sustainability is not a trend,’ says Sister Joanne Kollasch, ‘but a commitment to the earth — a 21st century expression of 1,500 years of Benedictine tradition.’

Energy use in the monastery is kept at a minimum through measures like customized glazing and high-albedo roof and hardscape surfaces, which keep cooling loads low (and decrease the heat-island effect); large windows that invite daylight and minimize electric lighting demands; operable windows for natural ventilation; and a ground-source heating and cooling system involving 39 closed-loop, 300-foot-deep wells. Rooftop photovoltaic panels meet 13% of the building’s remaining energy demands.

Efficient water fixtures, including waterless urinals, one-gallon-per-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets in kitchens and bathrooms, keep water use in the building low; outdoors, the restored native prairie landscape eliminates the need for a permanent irrigation system and porous paving manages storm water runoff. A green roof over the garage captures rainwater and further decreases the heat-island effect.

In the deconstruction of the Sisters’ previous conference center, more than 99% of the construction and demolition waste was successfully reused or recycled, diverting thousands of tons of material from the landfill. Thirty percent of the building materials were sourced from within 500 miles, and rapidly renewable bamboo floors in main gathering spaces round out the materials palette.

The local design and construction firm Hoffman, LLC, and sustainability consulting firm Vertegy headed the design team, which also included local firms Fredericksen Engineering, Czarnecki Engineering, and LGD engineering. Final project costs came in at $246/ft2 ($2,600/m2).”

Air filtration and purification is a major component of LEED certification and something offices, schools and industries can start implementing right away. A complete overhaul isn’t necessary to help bring your company up to LEED standards. 

Just start with a little clean air; it’ll do your lungs and company wonders.