The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Fairfield, Wisconsin was recently certified Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council.  It received 61 of the available 69 points, more than any building ever rated in the world.  This 12,000 square ft educational center is carbon neutral AND net zero… It incredibly produces 15% more energy than it uses!

The Leopold Center already meets the strenous Architecture 2030 standards by addressing these building strategies: To start, the building is 75% more energy efficient than a similar sized code built structure.  It also utilizes several passive features, including solar orientation, radiant floor heating, and breezeways to minimize the need for heating and cooling.  Finally, 198 solar panels were utilized to not only cover, but exceed the buildings remaining energy needs…. Getting a monthly check from the utility company doesn’t sound so bad, eh?

This project was completed for $4 million bucks, averaging out to be around $330/sq ft, finished.  Not bad considering that the building will be making money over its long lifespan.

Kudos to Kubala-Washatko Architects and Boldt Construction for making this project come to fruition…. It wasn’t long ago that people would talk about zero-energy and carbon neutral buildings as an unattainable dream.  Seeing that they are achievable today and for reasonable costs will only inspire others to do the same.

Another project in the works, the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center in Vancouver, Washington, looks to be the country’s first net-zero public application.  More info on this project can be found here.


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.