And the award for greenest new construction project in the nation goes to….Holy Wisdom Monastery. Surprisingly, or not, the greenest new construction project in the United States is not owned by a large multinational company with billions in annual revenue, instead the honor goes to a 30,000 square foot monastery in Madison, Wisconsin.

Holy Wisdom Monastery earned 63 out of a possible 69 points on the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) v. 2.2 checklist, making it the highest rated LEED-NC project in the nation. In designing this modern-day Benedictine monastery, the design team “was guided by the Sisters’ mission of weaving prayer, hospitality, justice, and care for the earth into a shared way of life as an ecumenical Benedictine community.” Source: Holy Wisdom Monastery (PDF)

Well, I think they’ve done it! Speaking about the new LEED Platinum rated monastery, Sister Joanne Kollasch very wisely says, “For us, sustainability is not a trend but a commitment to the earth – a 21st century expression of 1500 years of Benedictine tradition.”

In order to achieve such a high score, a bevy of green construction and design features were used in completing the new monastery. Below are just a few examples:

  • 99.75 percent of the original 60,000 square foot building was recycled or reused
  • The pipe organ and bells from the original monastery were restored and reused in the new space
  • The facility uses a geothermal heating and cooling system
  • An onsite solar array will generate 13 percent of the facility’s energy use – plans are in place to expand this so that the monastery can use 100 percent onsite renewable energy
  • Approximately 30 percent of the material used is locally or regionally sourced
While the primary purpose of the building is to serve as a monastery, the Sisters hope that their ultimate green building inspires others to embrace the importance of living a sustainable way of life.

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