Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph
LEED Platinum 2010
Using passive energy brought us closer to nature, which is especially important for Sisters who cannot go outside as they get older. It helps psychologically and spiritually to see and appreciate nature and the beauty of creation...
When the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph decided to build a new Motherhouse convent to meet the current and future needs of their Sisters, they knew they wanted to build green. As followers of St. Francis, the Sisters committed themselves to building a wood-framed, sustainable home that would have as little impact as possible. Franciscans have always preached that each of us is “brother or sister to all of creation.” The Sisters know that preaching without practice is of little value and so they based every project decision on a green measure. The project team considered pursuing certification under alternative LEED rating systems, but ultimately LEED for Homes was deemed most appropriate due to the scale of the building and the residential nature of the units. The 104,000-square-foot assisted living facility contains both independent living units and skilled-care nursing wings that accommodate 74 residents.
An existing convent on the site was dismantled and most materials were reused or donated to make way for the new Motherhouse. The architect designed independent living quarters in groups of eight bedrooms with independent baths and central kitchens, dining areas, and prayer rooms. Assisted care units are located in single-story wings, including community and craft rooms, dining facilities, a chapel, and an indoor therapeutic pool. Energy cost savings at the retirement home are estimated at 48%. The project team also pursued energy efficiency incentives under New York State Energy Research & Development Authority's New Construction Program.
The project site is located southeast of Lake Erie and approximately a 20-minute drive from Buffalo. It is in the town of Hamburg, a rural residential community, characterized by its flat topography. In fact, Hamburg is home to the Erie County Fair grounds. The Motherhouse is just a few miles from a heavily developed retail area, several houses of worship, restaurants, and pubs.