Wisconsin Energy Institute

The Wisconsin Energy Institute and surrounding area in the winter

Project Information

Total Cost:$57,153,600

Area:107,000 GSF

Project Summary: WEI constructed with a $57,153,600 budget will help the University develop novel technologies to meet the pressing national need of creating renewable energy in a sustainable and economically viable manner. Primary occupants of the building will be the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI) whose focus is converting plant biomass into ethanol and other clean, renewable motor fuels. Space will also be created to promote development of other renewable technologies. The WEI building is located at 1552 University Ave., the site of the old University Health Building. When fully funded, WEI will consist of an approximately 110,000 ASF / 200,000 GSF building to support administrative, research and outreach activities. Construction began in December 2010, is expected to be substantially complete November 2012 and occupied January 2013. 


Sustainability

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 This project is currently tracking LEED Gold certification. Details about this are given below. 

Front of the building at night 

 

The Wisconsin Energy Institute is withing walking distance of 14 basic services such as fitness facilities, grocery stores, and medical facilities which contributes to community connectivity and decreases the need for automotive transportation. Bike racks located around the building can accommodate 66 bicycles and the building is equipped with shower and changing facilities to promote alternative transportation. 69% of the project site is vegetated open space which promotes biodiversity and recreation, reduces urban heat island effect, and aids natural storm water management.

 



This building is designed to improve water efficiency by 30% by means of low-flow shower heads and dual flushing toilets. Bottle fillers within the building encourage reusing water bottles and also display the number of bottles saved with each fill. Additionally, the site is fitted with vegetation that requires no irrigation. These elements all contribute to LEED credits towards water efficiency.

  Shower in WEI to accommodate bicycle transportation

Shower in WEI to accommodate bicycle transportation

 View from WEI lounge area

View from WEI lounge area





 
To qualify for energy and atmosphere credits, 35% of the power used at the Wisconsin Energy Institute comes from renewable sources such as solar, wind, or landfill gas. Additionally, chill beams use the natural process of convection to recirculate cool air and ozone-depleting CFC-based refrigerants are not used.

 


Recycling and reuse of materials is important within the WEI. 96% of steel, wood, and concrete within the building is recycled. Additionally, door frames from the original site have been reused in other construction projects and materials ordered for the building were preferred to be regional. Waste disposal within the building is separated to encourage occupants to recycle.

 Wall-mounted waste disposal areas replaced a few trash cans in the building.

Wall-mounted waste disposal areas replaced a few trash cans in the building.

 Office meeting room with chill beams on ceiling.

Office meeting room with chill beams on ceiling.


 

Ash trays outside the building are not within 25 feet of any entrance in order to preserve indoor air quality. Also, low-emitting paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets and furnishings are used inside. 90% of occupant spaces will have natural daylight and outdoor views promote occupants' productivity, comfort and well-being. Finally, a thermal comfort survey will be given to occupants to assess their satisfaction and pinpoint any post-occupancy issues.


 

A few extra features have been added to the Wisconsin Energy Institute that contribute towards innovation in design credits. These include solar panels on the roof terrace that provide renewable energy to the building and also serve as a visual representation of energy awareness to the public. Additionally, plants growing in the community garden in front of the WEI have signage explaining how they are grown and then transformed into biofuels just inside the building.

 View of plants from the balcony on the top floor of the building

 Rachel Mallinger, PhD student, in Claudio Gratton's Lab at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. April 17, 2013

Rachel Mallinger, PhD student, in Claudio Gratton's Lab at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. April 17, 2013

 Research taking place within WEI

Research taking place within WEI

                              




In addition to the Wisconsin Energy Institute being a green building, the activities that will be occurring within also have a green focus. The Wisconsin Energy Institute provides a place for many to research renewable forms of energy. Visit http://www.energy.wisc.edu/ for more information.