Sister Lynne, hoe in hand, working in garden, caring for the earth

Why care for the earth?

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community 1 Comment

Why care for the earth? Monday morning, while I am working in the garden, a turkey hen appears from behind the compost pile, shepherding two very young chicks across the grass toward the garden. The hen stops and turns back when she sees me, but the chicks continue ahead and take cover under the rhubarb plants. As I walk away trying not to scare them, the mother clucks softly to her chicks and they come running out of the grass and into the woods with her. Tuesday morning I see them again from my office window as they enter the …

The Prairie Never Hibernates

Greg Armstrong Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, Natural Resources, Nature Notes 1 Comment

The cold and snow of winter dramatically changethe landscape at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Snowy days have a soft beauty about them as nearly everything gets covered with snow, and the plants and landforms become smooth and round. The softness even muffles sounds. When the sun comes out, these subtle forms glisten in the light. How different from the warm, sometimes steamy scenes of summer. Although cold, it is a very beautiful time to visit the prairies, woodlands, and wetlands of Holy Wisdom Monastery. Come and enjoy the beauty and calm of winter by participating in a personal retreat or walking on the nature trails. The …

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 …

Care for the Earth: A Longstanding Monastery Tradition

Neal Smith Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, Volunteers Leave a Comment

Care of the earth is nothing new at Holy Wisdom Monastery. As the story goes, three sisters went into the countryside outside of Madison in the early 1950s looking for a site suitable for a new Benedictine monastery. They had come from Sioux City, Iowa at the invitation of the first Bishop of the Madison diocese. What they found was a hilltop in the country with an unparalleled vista of the Madison skyline. After saying a few prayers and burying medals of St. Benedict, they set out to acquire the land. Once they tracked down the current owner, they negotiated for the 42.5 acres …

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 …

What is “LEED® Certification” All About?

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

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ (LEED certification) is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.  LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their building’s performance.  LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance and awarding points in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Sustainable site development accounts for 14 points that may be earned in the areas of …

Water Resources

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

Holy Wisdom Monastery is part of the Lake Mendota Watershed.  Drainage from this location finds its way through the Madison Lakes, to the Rock River and eventually to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. For years the awareness of problems from both urban and rural runoff has been growing. I would like to explain the positive steps being taken with the new monastery building to address this critical environmental issue. Before any construction could begin, our storm water control plan had to be approved by both Dane County and the Town of Westport. Their requirements are the most stringent of anywhere in the state. …

Green Roofs

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

“A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. This does not refer to roofs which are merely colored green, as with green roof shingles. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. The term green roof may also be used to indicate roofs that utilize some form of ‘green’ technology, such as solar panels or a photovoltaic module. Green roofs are also referred to as eco-roofs, vegetated roofs, living roofs, and greenroofs.” –Wikipedia Green roofs are used to: …

Photovoltaic Electrical Generation – in English!

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

The new monastery building will be “green.” It will utilize “photovoltaic electrical generation.” So, in simple English, “How does that work?” There are usually two different types of basic “solar panels.” The panels you see for heating water or air are much easier to understand than the ones used for electrical generation. The former are panels through which either water or air is pumped, heated and used for some purpose. This application generally is used for heating domestic hot water or swimming pool water or air circulated within a structure. Generating electricity is a more complex use of solar power. The new building at Holy Wisdom …