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Milwaukee Building Far Beyond the Standard

Jul. 24, 2012
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Milwaukee developer Juli Kaufmann cleaned up a polluted city lot at the corner of Bruce and South Second streets, several blocks north of the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, and built the new 30,000-square-foot Clock Shadow Building. Kaufmann believes it's the most environmentally progressive building in the world.

How so?

Sixty percent of the building is made from salvaged material—Cream City brick, abandoned cypress wood from a pickle company, freeway guardrail for the bike racks. The wood stairs are from city trees taken down to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer. Local artists worked on the designs. Ryan Foat of Oxbow Studio made the front door handles from salvaged broom handles. We reused or recycled 99% of our construction waste. For heating and cooling, we use the thermal mass of the earth beneath the building. We buy wind power for the electricity required. We have the nation's first regenerative elevator; the second is planned for the Empire State Building. Coming down, it uses the force of gravity to generate power back into the elevator for use going up.

The roof is a field?

We replaced a vacant lot that was absorbing storm water with a building, so it was important to capture storm water on the roof. Drought-resistant sedum plants collect 60% of the rain. The rest passes to a cistern under the building and is used to flush toilets. Our tenants use the roof for yoga, meditation and counseling, and the rooftop gardens for teaching clients to grow at home and eat healthier. Another strategy is to partner with our creamery to grow chives for use in cheese and mint for ice cream.

The creamery on the ground floor?

Clock Shadow Creamery is one of three urban cheese factories in the country, the only one in Wisconsin. Purple Door Ice Cream, a Milwaukee company that is growing tremendously, makes all their ice cream here. Once you build a building, its impact on the planet lies in how people use it. These businesses are a great fit because they're committed to sustainable production, organic ingredients and natural processes. Health care providers occupy the other three floors. The Healing Center offers free services to survivors of sexual violence. CORE/El Centro is a holistic healing center focused on clients typically unable to pay for services like acupuncture, massage or yoga. The Walker's Point Community Clinic is a primary health care clinic focused on treatment and prevention where everyone pays what they can.

And financing?

We wanted great tenants, so we worked in partnership with them on rent structures that fit their budgets. The nonprofits raised funds for their own improvements. We ensure that their operating costs remain low. We have, and are still recruiting, investors who want a return but also believe in the project's social and environmental aims. It's an opportunity to invest in the city, in social justice, in the health of the planet, and earn a sustainable return.

For more information, visit www.fixdevelopment.com.


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