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Wendy and Malcolm McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, Northland College

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1999, LHB Engineers and Architects. 1411 Ellis Ave.

Northland College, with its environmentally focused curriculum, offers a model of sustainable living at its McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center. This energy-efficient building, constructed with recycled materials, actively monitors energy use to gauge the effectiveness of its solar and wind energy systems. A computerized system records energy use every five minutes to measure McLean’s annual savings. Solar roof panels, salvaged from the Milwaukee Zoo, preheat water for the gas boiler heating system. These photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine offset 3 percent of electrical use. A two-story greenhouse permits year-round herb and vegetable gardening for residents, and the landscaping uses low-maintenance, drought-tolerant native species that weather Ashland’s cold climate. The McLean Center, which fills a city block, resembles a row of cedar-sided houses with brownstone trim and various combinations of casement and sash windows. The brownstone was salvaged from Ashland’s old high school. Housing 112 beds for students in a combination of singles, doubles, and suites, the building purposely has no elevator, so students must use stairs. The interior features low-wattage lighting instruments, high r-factor windows, and energy-efficient insulation in walls and ceilings. Recycled milk jugs form bathroom dividers, and the doors and countertops are made of wheat straw, soybean husk, and sawdust composite board.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Wendy and Malcolm McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, Northland College", [Ashland, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 301-302.

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