Building ‘green’ fits our Benedictine values

In late March 2010 the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Holy Wisdom Monastery a Platinum rating—the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification available. The monastery earned 63 out of a possible 69 points under LEED-New Construction (NC) version 2.2, making it the highest-rated LEED-NC building in the United States to date! To learn more about the points on the LEED scale that Holy Wisdom Monastery applied for, click here to download the final report on the application.

We partnered with Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. on the planning and construction of our new monastery building which opened in August 2009.

Aiming for such a high level of sustainability fits perfectly within the values of 1,500 years of Benedictine tradition. Additionally, we hope the newsworthy nature of such an accomplishment will allow us to educate others about care for the earth, increase the public’s awareness of the importance of the monastery and model the monastic lifestyle as a viable choice to women today.  Already, over 2000 people, including a group from as far away as China, have toured the monastery.

“For us, sustainability is not a trend,” says Sister Joanne Kollasch, “but a commitment to the earth—a 21st century expression of 1500 years of Benedictine tradition.”

The new monastery was designed and constructed by Hoffman LLC at a cost of $246 per square foot. This figure contains all project-related costs (except land), including the responsible deconstruction of Benedict House. Both the Benedictine sisters and Hoffman take great pride in the fact that one of the greenest buildings in the United States was built for such a moderate cost.

Ways to join our ‘green’ movement

  • Tour Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Donate to our care for the earth efforts
  • Volunteer at Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Read what others are saying us and our environmental efforts
  • Join the conversation on the LEED certified building section of our Blog
  • View photos and description of the LEED project at Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Download our self-guided tour brochure

For more information about Holy Wisdom Monastery, contact Carolyn McGinley at, 608-836-1631, x119.

Features of our green monastery

  • Holy Wisdom Monastery is a 30,000 square foot, two-story structure with a detached, 4,000 square foot remodeled maintenance building on over 130 acres. The monastery was built to help carry out the work of the Benedictine sisters to weave prayer, hospitality, justice and care of the earth into a shared way of life.
  • The original building, Benedict House, was responsibly deconstructed and 99.75% of the 60,000-square-foot building was recycled or reused.
  • The new monastery contains spaces for worship, concerts, conferences, lectures, interfaith dialog, dining, reading, and administration.
  • The building is “right-sized”, providing 50% less space than its predecessor, Benedict House.
  • Andersen® windows provide daylighting to 85% of regularly occupied spaces.  Each window was customized based upon its location and orientation to the sun. This reduces glare and minimizes unwanted solar heat gain inside the building. Neither draperies nor blinds are needed in the building. Chapel windows, including those near the ceiling, are operable to expel hot air and reduce the need for air conditioning.
  • Storm water runoff is reduced to 13% below pre-development levels.
  • Geothermal heating and cooling system uses 39 closed-loop wells, each 300 feet deep.
  • The goal is to eventually provide 100% of the monastery’s energy needs, on a net basis, from on-site, renewable sources. One way we are working toward this goal is by using solar panels which generate 60% of the energy needs of the monastery building.