Olbrich Botanical Gardens is proud to announce that the Frautschi Family Learning Center achieved a LEED® Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a scorecard of metrics for site design, building design, sustainability, renewable energy, and other measurable standards.

The 9,000 square foot Frautschi Family Learning Center is the first dedicated educational space in Olbrich’s history. On an annual basis, the Learning Center will use 67% less energy than a building built to minimum code standards.

A highlight of the buildings sustainable features is a 60,000-gallon underground cistern stores rainwater captured from the roof of the Learning Center. The harvested rainwater will provide about 75% of the annual water needs for the greenhouses and Bolz Conservatory, reducing potable water consumption, as well as salt and energy use from the reverse osmosis system needed to neutralize water from the aquifer.

The building also includes the following innovative design features:
•       Urban recycling of ash trees – used in interior window construction and trim.
•       9 kW photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, which provide approximately 20% of the Learning Center’s electric use.
•       In-floor heating and cooling on the first floor, requiring 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 building that greatly reduces electricity use and heating load.
•       A high performance building envelope that significantly reduces air infiltration.

“Because Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a leader in environmentally friendly gardening practices, it was important for the Frautschi Family Learning Center to reflect the highest sustainability measures in keeping with our philosophy. We wanted the building to have a genuine connection to the gardens, blend seamlessly with the landscape, and utilize innovative ideas for energy consumption and water reuse,” said Roberta Sladky, executive director of Olbrich Botanical Gardens. “Our hope is that visitors will learn about these efforts and be inspired to make changes to positively impact the environment in their own communities.”

“Achieving LEED certification is more than just implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. "Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role buildings play in that effort, Olbrich Botanical Gardens is creating a path forward through their LEED certification.”

The Frautschi Family Learning Center will enable Olbrich to better serve growing audiences for its variety of educational offerings, including school programs, summer writing camps, youth/family programs, and adult classes and workshops. The classroom layouts allow flexibility for small to large groups and events, with circulation space that allows for auxiliary uses. Each classroom also includes state-of-the-art audio and video systems. In addition, the building includes an outdoor classroom and a second level, outdoor rooftop seating area overlooking the gardens.

The design team included staff from the Engineering Division-Facility Management Section, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and the Olbrich Botanical Society. MSR Design architects Traci Lesneski and Chris Wingate led the professional architectural and engineer team. This is MSR’s second LEED platinum certification with the City of Madison (the Madison Municipal Building renovation was awarded LEED platinum in 2018). Sam Daniels and Joe Trainor were lead project managers for the construction team from Joe Daniels Construction. Many local and regional construction tradespeople and other construction professionals were also involved with this project.