aerial view of solar panels at Holy Wisdom - photo by H & H Solar

Update on sustainable building operation at Holy Wisdom

Holy Wisdom Monastery Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, LEED Certified Building Leave a Comment

by Mark Hanson, director of sustainable services, Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc Update, February 24, 2016:  Last November, the Holy Wisdom community decided to begin a new phase of living sustainably. Specifically, we decided to begin using the monastery and retreat and guest house as a living laboratory during the winter of 2015/2016. That included adjusting some temperatures lower during the winter months in different spaces and measuring the impact on energy use and cost. We said that we would monitor the results and report the findings as the monthly bills came in. We have been monitoring the results and …

Sisters continue to care for the earth by adding more solar panels

Car McGinley Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, LEED Certified Building Leave a Comment

In 2010 the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery received a LEED-platinum certification for their new monastery building—one of the ‘greenest’ buildings in the country. The solar photovoltaic system that was part of the new monastery building generated 8% of the energy needed to operate the building. The goal was to eventually add enough solar panels to produce 100% of the energy needs. Fast forward to October, 2014 and the sisters are closer to this goal as Holy Wisdom Monastery becomes Madison Gas and Electric’s (MGE) largest solar customer with the addition of 463 solar panels estimated to produce 60% of …

Holy Wisdom Monastery’s new solar panels to boost solar energy production to 40-50%

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Care for the Earth, LEED Certified Building Leave a Comment

We wanted to provide this update to all Sunday Assembly members, Oblate community members, and donors to the LEED-certified platinum building campaign at Holy Wisdom Monastery. You may notice work being done on the roofs of the monastery and retreat and guest house at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Several new photovoltaic solar panels are being installed that will increase the solar energy production for the LEED-certified platinum monastery building from about 10% to an estimated 40-50%. The sisters had an opportunity recently to work with a private investor group who will purchase the new photovoltaic panels and receive the tax incentives. The only new cost to the sisters will …

Tours as Blessings at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman LEED Certified Building 1 Comment

It was two years ago last month that the sisters and coworkers at Holy Wisdom Monastery began to move into the new, ‘green’ building.  I can still remember the first time I visited this building.  It was for my job interview, and I received a tour later that day.  I was in awe with all the natural light, the pristine walls with feminine curves, and all the places to gather for socializing and living out the sisters’ call to hospitality.  I was quite pleased when they called back to offer me the job! One of the reasons I enjoy coordinating …

Monastery Building Campaign: Closing the Gap!

Drew Howick Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, LEED Certified Building, Main Leave a Comment

It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the “Restore the Land, Renew Your Spirit” building campaign began. Under very challenging economic conditions, more than $1.1 million has been raised toward the $2 million goal. Since last fall, campaign donors met not one, but two $100,000 matching gifts. This generous outpouring of support is truly inspiring and a testament to the commitment of more than 870 people. Between now and the end of the campaign on December 31, 2010, the work of the Benedictine Life Foundation and everyone connected with Holy Wisdom Monastery is clear: get as close …

New Monastery Education

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

The new monastery building is completed and everyone is moved in! Benedictines are believers in “life-long learning.” So, what will the new monastery be used for from an educational perspective? There are many facets to be explored and many new ideas as we work to fully utilize the new building. First of all, a committee of co-workers and volunteers developed an education plan focusing on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements. Included were the following: Guided tours will be conducted on an ongoing basis to educate our co-workers, retreatants, oblates, Sunday Assembly members, other guests and the general public about the sustainable and earth-friendly …

Natural Lighting

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

“Why can’t I turn the lights off?  This is a question I’ve frequently heard when touring the new monastery building. Usually we’re just leaving the food service area and one of our energy conscious guests asks this question. The answer I offer is that I forgot to point out the large solar tube in the center of the room. Solar tubes direct outdoor light down a reflective tube to brighten interior spaces. Even on a cloudy day there is enough solar lighting to make people think the lights are on. One of the characteristics of the new building is the use of natural light. Every occupied space in the building has …

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 Intent 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. Requirements 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 …

Solar Heat Gain

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

It wasn’t until early in the 17th century, when Galileo stated that the earth revolves around the sun, that humans began to understand the power of the sun. Now, centuries later, not only do we realize we have the ability to harness the sun’s energy, we also know we must harness it in such a way that does not further damage the universe. As the design of the new monastery building evolved, a great deal of attention was paid to the sun and its effect on heating, cooling, lighting and shading the building. Solar heat gain refers to the increase in temperature in a space, object …

Saving Water and Caring for the Environment

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

Do you ever think about how much potable water, water that is fit for you to drink, is pumped into your home, how much you actually drink and how much your home environment drinks? Each year in the U.S. alone our buildings use 12.2% of all potable water. That’s 15 trillion gallons each year! As we designed the new monastery building, we looked at a smarter use of water both inside and out. We wanted to reduce our water usage through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings and water-wise landscaping. Irrigation (watering something artificially) is one of the main culprits of wasteful water practices. Potable water …