Holy Wisdom Monastery – LEED Education Plan

Neal Smith Care for the Earth, LEED Certified Building Leave a Comment

Public Education & Outreach – Sustainable Design and Construction


Provide public and co-worker education focusing on sustainable design and construction strategies, green buildings as a financially viable building solution, and the need for proactive management of green buildings.


To take advantage of the educational value of the green building features of Holy Wisdom Monastery and to earn an Innovation in Design credit, a narrative detailing the activities and instructional elements of our education and outreach program is provided. Two of the three elements defined in the 9/24/01 CIR are included in the Education and Outreach program:

1. Guided tours will be conducted on an ongoing basis to educate our co-workers, retreatants, Oblates, Sunday Assembly, other guests and the general public about the sustainable and earth friendly features of the new Holy Wisdom Monastery building and the benefits of sustainable building and operating practices.

2. A comprehensive display and signage program is built into the building’s spaces to educate visitors of the benefits of building and maintaining green buildings.

It is the desire of Benedictine Women of Madison to educate people in the greater Madison metropolitan area, as well as the national and international groups, about reducing the environmental impact a building can have and making the building a positive experience for those who visit or work in the facility. This narrative explains the efforts taken to date, as well as the plans for the future.


Part One: An educational guided tour has been developed focusing on sustainable building techniques as applied to new construction, using the project as an example. In general the tour covers the green aspects in the following order:

  • Diversion of 99.75% of decommissioned building from landfill.
  • 9 tons of old building materials recycled through Habitat Restore.
  • Geothermal wells (39) under the parking area provide heating and cooling through a heat pump system.
  • Pervious concrete strategically located in the parking area allows for storm water infiltration.
  • Solar parking lot lighting.
  • Reduced solar heat gain in parking.
  • Preferred parking for handicapped, car pooling and hybrid vehicles.
  • Entrance vestibule with anti-pollution matting.
  • Entry educational exhibit area including green and sustainable building & maintenance exhibits.
  • Use of rapidly renewable bamboo for flooring.
  • Baptismal font made from locally quarried granite.
  • Reused components including bells, organ, walk-in cooler, furniture, telephone & computer systems and artwork.
  • Custom high performance wood windows to provide views and manage glare and unwanted heat gain.
  • Natural ventilation.
  • Natural lighting in all occupied areas.
  • Low water use toilets and waterless urinals.
  • Tankless hot water heaters.
  • Low VOC carpeting with 17% total recycled content, 6% renewable materials content &
  • 100% recyclable.
  • FSC wood used.
  • Green roofs.
  • Rain barrels.
  • All native landscaping.
  • Photovoltaic energy generation.
  • Rain gardens.

Benedictine Women of Madison is active in promoting the building as a demonstration of green design and construction, both formally and informally. The monastery has provided tours of the facility by appointment or invitation to interested parties and/or groups. Tours will be provided on an ongoing basis. In addition, Benedictine Women of Madison is promoting the facility, along with the restored lake and prairie to all retreat, worship and visitor groups who come to the monastery. A brief summary brochure is being created for individuals to receive as part of the tour.

Part Two: An exhibit and signage program is incorporated in the building to educate the occupants and visitors of the benefits of green building construction and maintenance. Examples of some of the signage are provided.

The main location of the educational exhibits is in the main entrance to the building. In addition, a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating the same important sustainable features will be available for guests to see in the board room (and alternate rooms) off the reception area, as well as on the Monastery Website.

Signs explaining many of the sustainable features will be placed throughout the building, where appropriate. Following is a detailed explanation of the signage in the appropriate areas:

  • Rest rooms explaining low water use of fixtures.
  • Board room explaining window design, green roof, rain barrels, pervious concrete, solar parking lot lighting, reduced solar heat gain, native landscaping, rain gardens and building siting fitting into the land and views.
  •  Gathering area explaining natural ventilation, rapidly renewable bamboo flooring, natural lighting and views, FSC wood, low VOC carpeting, locally quarried granite and how the green building is an expression of the monastery’s mission.
  •  Conference room in Retreat & Guest House is an additional (and alternate) space for showing the PowerPoint to retreat groups. Other informational signage may also be duplicated and displayed in this room and other areas in the Retreat & Guest House.
  •  Maintenance room explaining geothermal heating and cooling, photovoltaic energy generation, tankless hot water heaters, recycling the old building components, composting and recycling operating practices, green cleaning practices.
  •  Main dining explaining kitchen practices of composting, recycling, locally grown (at the monastery) produce and organic purchasing.

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