American Hardwoods
Real American Hardwoods

In October, 2007, the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, named after the 1940s conservationist whose vision of sustainability was based on respect of the environment and nature, received Platinum LEED Certification from the USGBC.  “It is a net-zero energy building, meeting all of its energy needs on site.  Despite the contrasts of Wisconsin’s four-season climate, the Leopold Center uses 70 percent less energy than a building just built to code, and the center’s roof-mounted solar array is projected to meet 110 percent of the building’s energy needs on an annual basis.”

The Center’s use of locally-harvested wood products is of key importance. Because of construction scheduling complications, as well as an extremely deep commitment to the project, Leopold Foundation members, neighbors and the staff who now occupy the structures, logged and peeled a significant portion of the wood used in the 12,000 square foot complex. (Most of the exterior siding is oak and ash boards harvested sustainably on-site.)

The oak woodland on the Leopold Memorial Reserve was harvested to regenerate a dwindling oak tract, which is an important part of the southern Wisconsin landscape.  The harvest also provided quantities of red maple and cherry while taking steps to restore the oak woodland community.  Larger gaps in the forest canopy will promote the growth of native understory plants that were suppressed by heavy shading.  A forester from the Community Forestry Resource Center reviewed the harvest plan and conducted site visits during and after the logging, verifying that the activity protected the remaining trees and other vegetation, as well as soil, water quality and wildlife.

Kubala Washatko Architects of Cedarburg, Wisconsin arranged the buildings in a composition of two facing ells, together defining a pair of open courtyard spaces.  The buildings balance, inside and outside, with narrow wings, open or creatively partitioned interiors and generous glazing. This milestone structure helps us to envision the future.

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