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Ultramodern monastery fine example of green construction

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 2nd, 2011
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Monasteries conjure up images of ancient, fortress-like buildings made up of brick and mortar. The Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison, Wisconsin stands in startling contrast to that image as it is ultramodern and sleek in appearance. The monastery has now been blessed wit the title of the greenest "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - New Construction," building in the country.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Founded in the Fifties, the monastery was the first ecumenical Benedictine community in the United States. The Sisters who run the monastery looked to the countryside outside of Madison in the early 1950s looking for a site suitable for a new Benedictine community. What they found was a hilltop in the country with an unparalleled vista of the Madison skyline and Lake Mendota.

After a few prayers and burying medals of St. Benedict, they set out to acquire the land. The Sisters found the owner and purchased the first 42.5 acres that included Lost Lake and the hilltop often referred to as "God's Hill."

The sisters later acquired the balance of the 138 acres that make up the current grounds. The property was originally farmed and only a few trees existed on the initial parcel.

The Sisters have since returned 95 acres to native prairie and wetlands. This includes the restoration of Lost Lake to its original size and pristine condition.

When it came to build a new monastery, the Sisters decided the building would have to embody their mission of weaving prayer, hospitality, justice, and care for the earth into a shared way of life as an ecumenical Benedictine community. They also knew that the design had to be respectful of its natural environment. The project offered the Sisters an opportunity to explore what a 21st-century Benedictine monastery could be.

Planning began in 2006. An impressive 99.75% of the deconstructed Benedict House was recycled or reused. The project was completed in August 2009, and the result is everything that the Sisters had envisioned.

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded Holy Wisdom Monastery 63 out of a possible 69 points under LEED-NC version 2.2, the most points of any LEED-NC building in the United States to date. The goal is to eventually provide 100% of the monastery's net energy needs from on-site, renewable sources.

2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM

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