Energy Efficiency in New Construction

State conference focuses on energy-efficient building design.

At first glance, the office building at 749 University Row in Madison looks like other offices.  But, experts say the building's features make it a model for sustainable design and energy efficiency.

Architects from across the state learned about 749 University Row as part of the 2018 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Wisconsin Conference on Architecture. Sponsored in part by MGE, the conference featured several sessions on high performance building design and included experts from Seventhwave, a local energy consulting and research firm that partners with MGE to advance energy efficiency and sustainability.

"We need to take advantage of every opportunity possible to weave sustainability into the building design conversation. Having these conversations early in design is the best way to identify energy efficiency opportunities and pursue them," said David Vigliotta, Seventhwave's Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships.

LEEDing by example

Energy efficient office buildingThe building at 749 University Row is designated as a LEED Platinum building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It was intentionally constructed in a way that would allow developers to replicate it elsewhere. Energy efficiency features were implemented in all systems of the building, which includes:

  • A design that takes advantage of as much daylight as possible to reduce the need for artificial lighting.
  • LED bulbs throughout much of the building. LEDs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can last 15 to 25 times longer.
  • Light levels specifically tuned to ensure optimal energy efficiency while still providing appropriate illumination.

MGE supported the project by purchasing a number of submeters and sensors, which allow each of the building's tenants to monitor the energy consumption of individual pieces of equipment, from lights to HVAC units. The data allows them to adjust their usage and save energy.

"By purchasing those submeters, MGE also allowed us to study the energy usage throughout the entire building. We could then share measured information about how the building was performing from an energy standpoint," said Scott Hackel, Seventhwave's Director of Engineering.

The 65,000-square-foot building has an ENERGY STAR® score of 94, which means it is more energy-efficient than all but 6% of similar buildings in this climate.

"It is essential to have a sustainability ambassador on the design team that may be willing to stick their neck out a little. These types of events hosted by AIA Wisconsin are critical in educating the next generation of ambassadors," said Vigliotta.

To learn more about some of the features in high performance building design, visit

MGE remains committed to working together with community partners to advance energy efficiency and conservation. By saving energy, we can reach our shared energy goals for a more sustainable future.

published: May-31-2018