VIEW WEB EXTRA with slideshow and additional information about the project.

The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, Baraboo, Wis., is the headquarters and conference facility for The Aldo Leopold Foundation, a prominent environment al organization. Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, and writer, considered by many to be the father wildlife management and the United States' s wilderness system.

The 12,000-sq-ft complex — including office and meeting spaces, exhibit hall, library and archive, and three-season classroom — embodies the principles of its namesake. Built to the highest standards of energy efficiency and sustainability, the Center is carbon neutral and “zero net” energy in design.

It is certified LEED Platinum. The Center won the THE CONCRETE PRODUCER magazine's 2008 GreenSite Award for Commercial Construction. In addition, it was named one of America's Top Ten Green Projects by the American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment.

It is also a perfect example of masonry's impact on the beauty, and sustainability, of a project. The limestone used on the Center links the structure's design with its purpose, and ties it to the environment. The stone also contributed to the project's LEED credits. However, it was only added after what the project's mason contractor calls, “a string of coincidences.”

Rick Skaife, president, Monona Masonry, Madison, Wis., was at a project planning meeting when he overheard the architect mention that he would rather use stone than board formed concrete on the Center's fireplace and aqueduct. Skaife quickly proposed an alternative: Monona's own supply of Dane County limestone.

“I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” says Skaife. This particular stone was ideal for the job as a locally sourced, and recycled, material. Monona had reclaimed it from the nearby Dane County Regional Airport's private terminal, which was built by President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps in the Its1930s.

Although Skaife did not have a specific use for the stone when they diverted it from the landfill, the contractor knew it was valuable. The crew painstakingly cleaned old mortar from the stone and stacked it on pallets to wait for the perfect job. “We do a lot of restoration in the area, and this old stone matches existing structures,” Skaife explains. “You can provide the client a better finished product if you're using the actual material that's on his building.”

Monona's supply of “historic” stone and brick also gives it a competitive edge, and brought extra work on the Center, where Monona was initially only hired to do back-up block for the fireplace. Monona's team of 10 to 12 masons worked on the Center's fireplace, chimney, and aqueduct for one year.

A Rumford fireplace was chosen for its efficiency and open design. Its shallow firebox reflects heat into the room, making it an integral part of the Center's heating system. Surrounding stone also holds heat from the fire, so less escapes through the chimney.

“We were trying to add mass to the interior of the building,” explains Tom Kubala, The Kubala Washatko Architects, Cedarburg, Wis. “Since most of the building is wood, this much stone was a welcomed addition. From an energy aspect, stone evens out the temperature swings you can get with a passive solar building.”