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Green on the Prairie

A trio of Benedictine sisters—all age 50-plus—are the masterminds behind the nation’s “greenest” building.

Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wis., recently received the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum rating ever: 63 out of 69 points for sustainability, energy efficiency and choice of materials. The building has bamboo flooring, solar panels and windows oriented to maximize sunlight and prairie views.

“People wonder why such a small [three-member] community would do something like this,” says Sister Mary David Walgenbach, 71. “But we are charged to tread lightly upon the earth.”

Cathie Gandel is a freelance writer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

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