Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery    

LEED Gold Certified                

                 View of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery building from the intersection of North Randall Avenue and West Johnson Street

Project Information

Total Cost: $200 Million

Area: 327,615 GSF 

Project Summary: This research institute will bring together biology, bioinformatics, computer science, engineering, nanotechnology and other fields to spark new scientific and engineering breakthroughs.

The building received the Innovation in Green Building Award for its sustainable efforts, and was also named the 2012 Laboratory of the Year.


View of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery building from the intersection of North Orchard Street and West Johnson Street

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery received LEED Gold certification in 2011, and was the third building on the UW-Madison campus to achieve LEED certification. Among the sustainable highlights is the use of geothermal energy, natural daylighting, and natural air.

Interior glass, curvilinear corridors, and open gathering spaces within the building facilitates interactions between occupants. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery uses architecture to bring building occupants together to collaborate on research and technology. 

Inside of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery

Birdseye view of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery building showing the boreholes

Geothermal energy is harvested, as shown by the map above, through 75 boreholes which are approximately 300 ft deep. Geothermal energy is a heat exchanger which brings in cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter. Using geothermal energy, provides 10% on energy savings in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. 

A white roof having a solar radiation index of 104 reduces absorbed radiation and heat by reflecting solar radiation.

 Aerial view of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery building and other surrounding buildings

Common sitting area available for public use in the main lobby

Energy savings of 25% over the baseline building.

The amount of materials recycled was tracked throughout construction and a total of 88% of the construction waste from the project was recycled.

Sign that shows the amount of materials that were recycled during construction

 People walking up and down a staircase off of the main lobby

Low-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings were applied inside the building.

Approximately 70% of the building is lab and lab office/support space that is served with 100% outside air.

Researcher working in one of the labs in the building

 View of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery building and surrounding Madison area at night

Exemplary Performance in available buses in the vicinity of the project totaling 1618 transit rides from 12 different stops within a quarter mile from the building as of October 2008.

Alternative transportation includes promoting bicycle commuting with 963 bicycle stalls with four shower changing facilities within the building.

Exterior shading devices such as overhangs, window fins and baguettes to reduce heat absorbed in the summer months.

Common public area in the lobby

 Signage on the outside of the building