From: National Audubon Society
Published October 28, 2004 08:38 AM

Schlitz Audubon’s Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center Is One Of The “Greenest” Buildings In America

Center Turns “Green” Into “Gold” with Today’s LEED Award

Milwaukee, WI, Thursday, October 28, 2004 – Milwaukee is home to one of the most sustainable and environmentally sensitive buildings in the country.

The Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center today was awarded a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C. The Audubon learning center, 1111 E. Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, is the only new construction Gold certified LEED building in Wisconsin, and one of just 28 gold certified buildings in the United States.

Located just 15 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee, the learning center is situated on 185 acres of unspoiled natural beauty along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Center is a privately funded, non-profit nature preserve dedicated to environmental education and land stewardship. Each year more than 37,000 children experience the magic of nature through hands-on nature education programs. More than 70,000 people visit the Center each year for learning, hiking and connecting with nature.

During the early planning stages for Schlitz Audubon’s environmental learning center six years ago, the Center’s board of directors made a decision to “walk the environmental talk” and build the “greenest of the green” sustainable facility, despite the fact that it would be a more costly and challenging alternative to traditional building techniques.

Using LEED’s rating system as an environmental quality-control yardstick, Schlitz Audubon‘s Building Committee, The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc., and the Jansen Group construction contractors created integrated sustainable building systems and processes from day one that touched every aspect of the building’s design and construction.

“Sustainable building” or “green building” is the practice of designing and constructing buildings that minimize environmental effects throughout the life cycle of the structure.

As the nation’s leading authority on sustainable building practices, the U.S. Green Building Council has created the national LEED certification system as a way to quantify excellence in green building, encourage sustainable building practices and promote environmental responsibility.

The LEED system awards points for incorporating green building techniques and systems, such as natural ventilation, passive solar heating and cooling, day lighting, use of recycled and recyclable materials, reliance on renewable energy sources and a host of environmental impact strategies.

Some of the “green” highlights of the Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center include:

(1) A 10-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system, donated by We Energies, which supplies a significant portion of the building’s electricity and lessens future energy use by the Center;
(2) Extensive use of natural light that reduces energy needed for lighting
(3) Specially designed and placed window systems, donated in part by Johnson Controls;
(4) A geothermal heat system that uses 90 groundwater wells and the earth’s temperature to provide heating and cooling, thereby lessening dependence on fossil fuels, and;
(5) Low-flow plumbing that helps protect the environment by reducing water usage.
(6) Pine logs, which were harvested from Aldo Leopold’s nature preserve in Sauk County and donated by his family for use as external structural supports, provide tangible and symbolic representations of the building’s inter-connectedness with the natural world.

According to Elizabeth Cheek, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center executive director, the learning center’s construction process was an “environmental labor of love” that employed a wide range of earth-friendly building materials and techniques.

The Center’s new building provides much needed space for more classrooms, an enlarged auditorium, new exhibits, a nature-focused preschool, the first of its kind in Wisconsin, a nature store and improved accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Founded in 1971, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center educates more children than any other nature center in Wisconsin, and more children than any other center in the National Audubon network.

For j-peg photos of the Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center, please call (414) 352-2880, Ext. 149.

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For more information contact:
Patricia Neale
Schlitz Audubon Center
Phone: 414-352-2880 x149

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