The Frautschi Family Learning Center addition at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison has LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

This is the city’s fourth platinum certification overall and the third in the last two years. Platinum is the highest certification level.

LEED is a scorecard of metrics for site design, building design, sustainability, renewable energy and other measurable standards. The USGBC evaluates documentation submitted by the city, the design team and the construction team, which produces the final score. The learning center project scored 84 out of 100 possible points, 60 is required for Silver certification level.

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens new Frautschi Family Learning Center enhances learning opportunities related to sustainability and garden stewardship. An addition to a small complex of connected buildings, the project contributes to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens’ goal of becoming internationally known as a leader in environmental education.

The Frautschi Family Learning Center includes all the following in its design features:

– Urban recycling of ash trees, used in interior window construction and trim.

– On an annual basis, the Learning Center will use 67% less energy than a building built to minimum code standards.

– Nine kW photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, which provides 20% of the new additions’ electric use.

– In-floor heating and cooling on the first floor, which requires an air handling system that maintains tight control of humidity levels in the space.

– Large windows for daylighting and views to the surrounding gardens.

– Daylight sensors that automatically dim LED lighting.

– Occupancy and vacancy sensors for lighting and heating control.

– LED lighting throughout the project that reduces electricity use and heating load significantly.

– A high-performance building envelope that significantly reduces air infiltration.

– The classroom layouts allow flexibility for small to large groups and events, with circulation space that allows for auxiliary uses. The classrooms also include state of the art audio and video systems.

– The building also includes an outdoor classroom and a second level, outdoor, rooftop, seating area overlooking the gardens.

In addition, the learning center collects almost all the rain water from its roof in a 60,000-gallon cistern located below its first floor. The harvested rain water is then used for watering the indoor plants in the conservatory and greenhouses. This reduces potable water consumption, and salt and energy use from the reverse osmosis system.

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