Release Date: April 1, 2014

UW - Madison power plant files for sustainable LEED certification

Charter Street heating plant rebuild project designed and built according to LEED Gold requirements

One of the two heating plants serving the University of Wisconsin—Madison will apply for LEED Gold certification making it the first campus central utility plant to meet the requirements. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction and operations solutions. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) manages the LEED program. 

Construction on the plant started in November 2010 and the project was completed in December 2013. The Boldt Company was construction manager on the project and collaborated with the engineer, AMEC, and the State of Wisconsin’s Division of Facilities Development (DFD).

The University’s Charter Street Heating Plant was converted from coal to natural gas, which required extensive renovation. The rebuild added four 225,000-lb./hr. natural gas/fuel oil package boilers and a 70,000-sq.-ft. plant expansion to accommodate the new boilers and additional equipment. Early in the project, teams discussed constructing the plant according to LEED Gold standards.

“The State of Wisconsin has established sustainability standards for use in building design and construction that were modeled after the LEED rating system. The University of Wisconsin strives to obtain at a minimum a LEED Silver certification on major building projects,” said Kirby Letheby, DFD project manager. “The Boldt team used an integrated design and construction approach for the Charter Street project to aggressively pursue sustainability, energy efficiency and waste recycling that met and exceeded the State standards.  We were pleased that they also took the initiative to document and submit for LEED certification.”  

“Building a power plant is an extremely complicated project,” said Gus Schultz, Boldt vice president of central operations. “Building a power plant that also meets the rigorous LEED qualifications requires a specialized skill set and one we were ready for.” In addition to constructing power plants, Boldt has LEED Certified 32 projects with another 18 seeking LEED Certification.

Some of the more significant sustainable elements of the Charter Street Heating Plant Rebuild project are:

  • Reclaimed heat is being used to heat the building. Crews installed duct work that carried waste heat from the plant’s heating process to the rest of the building. Steam from boilers is run through a steam turbine generator to change the pressure thus making it suitable for use in unit heaters.
  • The plant uses environmentally-friendly R-134a refrigerant for cooling needs. These units require less energy to operate and have lower impacts on ozone depletion and global warming. 
  • A construction indoor air quality management plan was followed during construction. Under this plan, deliveries on site were palletized and covered in shrink wrap; ductwork was covered with plastic at open ends during installation; work areas were cleaned upon completion of work so as not to disrupt other work areas.
  • The plant was constructed with operable windows placed high on the walls to increase air flow in spring and fall thus reducing the need for air conditioning and air handing.
  • All of the wood used in the plant was purchased from Forest Stewardship Certified forests which are managed for sustainability.
  • More than 88% of construction waste materials were recycled instead of going to local landfills, including:
    • 9,450 tons of concrete  
    • 2,168 tons of metal  
    • 1,523 tons of co-mingled trash  
    • 243 tons of wood  
  • 34% of construction materials used were made of recycled content 

Boldt project managers say recycling was critical because the project included demolishing and removing a 250-ft. masonry smokestack. “We separated recyclables on the job site because all work crews knew the savings we could provide the owner,” Schultz said.

The power plant is located in a heavily-populated urban setting and stayed in operation during construction. Other project aspects of the power plant include:

  • Water treatment equipment installation
  • Upgrades to feed water and condensate collection systems
  • New air compressors
  • Upgrade to digital controls for both campus heating/cooling plants
  • Electrical system upgrades and additions
  • New 13.8KV switchyard 
  • New 920,000-gallon fuel oil tank
  • Fire protection for the existing plant and expansion
  • New six-cell, 50,000-GPM cooling tower



The Boldt Company, headquartered in Wisconsin, has 14 offices throughout the United States and is one of the leading sustainable construction services firms in the country. The firm provides professional construction services to customers in a variety of power, industrial, education, healthcare, commercial and renewable energy markets nationwide. The firm has been recognized as one of the safest companies in America.

Mary Schmidt
Phone: 920-284-7165
Patrick Casey
Phone (W): 920-225-6159
Phone (M): 920-246-4195