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The City of Madison Engineering Division and Olbrich Botanical Gardens are proud to announce an award the City earned for work on Olbrich’s recent expansion.

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens’, Frautschi Family Learning Center (FFLC), earned the 2021 US Green Building Council’s Leadership Award-West North Central Region. The USBGC Leadership Awards highlight green building projects, companies and individuals over the last year and recognize commitment toward creating healthy, sustainable spaces.

The USGBC Leadership Awards recognize the exemplary leadership of individuals and organizations contributing to the creation of sustainable, healthier, equitable and resilient buildings, cities and communities. The West North Central region includes: ND, MN, WI, SD, IA, KS, and MO.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is located at 3330 Atwood Ave., Madison, Wis. Olbrich Botanical Gardens provides a space for the public to gather and indulge in the beauty of nature. The space includes 16 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens.

The new FFLC brings a special addition to Olbrich Gardens by providing a dedicated space that encourages learning programs for all ages. A new modern greenhouse was also built to replace the old greenhouse as part of the expansion. The new greenhouse uses new technologies for heating, cooling and environmental control. A more efficient use of floor space supports tropical plants for the Bolz Conservatory as well as plants produced on site for the Outdoor Gardens, events and exhibits, education programs, gift shop and plant sales.
The project design team was led by Meyer, Scherer, Rockcastle, Ltd. (MSR Design). Olbrich and City Engineering-Facility Management staff collaborated with the project design team. The design team focused on three primary objectives for this expansion project:

  1. Create new guiding principles that reflect the Garden’s vision, mission and values
  2. Validate and/or adjust the 2013 Master Plan based off of the new guiding principles
  3. Set an example for sustainability in the community by achieving a LEED Certification goal of silver or higher, becoming a part of the City’s 2030 Challenge targeting a 70 percent reduction in annual energy consumption per City building and implementing stormwater management practices on the property.

Joe Daniels Construction Co. Inc. was the general contractor for the project. Groundbreaking was in September 2018. Construction was completed in February 2020. The FFLC has the following features that support LEED certification:

  • High-efficiency envelope construction including infiltration barriers and insulation
  • High-efficiency windows
  • Large windows to maximize daylighting
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting with daylight and occupancy sensors
  • In-floor heating and cooling combined with energy-efficient air handling equipment with occupancy sensors
  • 9kW photovoltaic solar panels on the roof provide approximately 20 percent of the daily consumption of the Learning Center
  • Selecting products that are sustainable, have a high recycling content, and have low odor/emissions
  • Wood from ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer were recycled for use in window, door, and other trim throughout the FFLC
  • Maximizing the recycling of construction waste
  • Rainwater storage, while did not directly add LEED points, includes a 60,000-gallon cistern below the FFLC that collects the roof runoff from 90 percent of the campus roofs for interior irrigation of the Conservatory and greenhouse.  This reduces the load on use of the city aquifer as well as reduces salt usage and wastewater to make reverse osmosis water for the interior gardens and plant collection.
  • The FFLC will use 67 percent less energy as designed with these features than a building built to minimal code standards.

City of Madison General Ordinance requires that new and remodeled city facilities achieve a minimum of Silver LEED certification.  In July of 2020, USGBC awarded the FFLC with Platinum Certification.

View photos from the construction process of Olbrich’s expansion.