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Living green

Middleton monastery a symbol of commitment

Photos by FotoGrafix

Photos by FotoGrafix

For more than 10 years, the Benedictine Women of Madison worked diligently to restore the natural environment surrounding their Middleton monastery.

The women restored 95 acres of farmland to prairie and dredged and restored a 9-acre glacial lake. But perhaps the most drastic approach to re-establishing a connection to the land’s natural state was the sisters’ decision to tear down the 60,000-square-foot Benedict House they used for worship and other services.

The women wanted a smaller, simpler, energy-efficient building with the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification possible. The two-story Holy Wisdom Monastery offers half the space of the Benedict House, but provides plenty of room for worship, concerts, conferences, lectures and dining, said Mark Hanson, director of sustainable services for Hoffman LLC, Appleton, the project’s construction manager and architect.

When the project kicked off in September 2008, work for LEED platinum certification began in earnest with the demolition of the Benedict House. The project team diverted 99.75 percent of the building from the landfill by donating 9 tons of material to Habitat Restore and reusing 8,629 tons on the new project.

“It took a lot of thought, planning and research to design and construct the monastery,” Hanson said.

With the project, Hoffman sought to build one of the highest-rated LEED-certified buildings on a limited budget, he said. Including demolition and construction, the project cost was kept to $241 per square foot.

“We wanted to accomplish what the owner wanted, but while keeping the costs in line with their budget,” Hanson said. “While some of these energy-saving devices cost more than what is standard, we were able to recoup the price differences in other ways.”

The team used specially designed Andersen windows to control heat gain and allow for a smaller HVAC system. The windows cost more, Hanson said, but they saved money on the HVAC system.

“There were gives and takes like that throughout the project,” he said.

Hoffman also kept costs lower by leaving the windows unadorned. The move saved money that would have been spent on blinds or shades and also allowed for fewer light fixtures due to the increased daylight.

“We have built a very sustainable building,” Hanson said, “that also captures the sisters’ commitment to taking care of the earth and celebrating it through a building filled with windows capturing the beautiful views that surround the monastery.”

Holy Wisdom Monastery

Location: Middleton

Submitting company: Hoffman LLC, Appleton

Construction Manager: Hoffman LLC

Architect: Hoffman LLC

Engineers: Czarnecki Engineering Inc., Pewaukee, (electrical, photovoltaic); Fredericksen Engineering Inc., Mequon, (HVAC, geothermal); Larson Engineering Inc., White Bear Lake, Minn., (structural); Lubenow, Gobster, Dominiak & Associates Inc., Mequon, (plumbing, fire protection)

Owner: Benedictine Women of Madison

Project size: 34,300 square feet

Project cost: $7.8 million

Start date: September 2008

Completion date: August 2009

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