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Alverno College Achieves Expansion Milestone with Green Roof Installation this Week

July 9, 2014

In one of the most visual signs of progress to date for Alverno College’s historical $30 million expansion and renovation, construction crews will finish installing a nearly 10,000 square-foot green roof on top of the College’s new Commons building this week. The Commons is expected to open in late August and is one of several significant campus construction projects that started in March.

Alverno College joins a distinguished list of area higher education environmental stewards that have also installed green roofs including the Milwaukee School of Engineering and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Green roofs are layered systems of soil and plants designed to reduce storm water runoff and reflected heat on surrounding buildings and spaces. Alverno’s green roof will eliminate 152,000 gallons of storm water annually from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). MMSD helped fund Alverno’s green roof with a grant from the District’s Fresh Coast 740 program designed to increase more natural storm water management practices that capture, store or filter rainwater. MMSD has helped fund more than ten acres of green roof in the city of Milwaukee.

Alverno’s green roof is the most visible of several efforts that will help the college minimize its impact on the environment while also saving energy costs. A water-retaining bio-swale on the south end of campus, also funded with support from MMSD, will provide further water conservation. Additionally, a new underground storage tank for water runoff will retain water and release it slowly in order to reduce water runoff loads on the Kinnickinnic River basin. Alverno will plant approximately 40 additional trees and hundreds of new indigenous shrubs with no new irrigation needed. To improve power management, the college will install energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems throughout the campus. Alverno also selected flooring, furnishings and fixtures with a low environmental impact to enhance indoor air quality and occupant comfort.

“Respect for the environment is deeply rooted in the eight core abilities we teach at Alverno as well as the Franciscan values on which the college was built and operates today,” said Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “Our design, engineering and construction plans meet today’s standards for best-in-class green building strategies and practices while also delivering the classrooms and gathering spaces that will be at the center of the world renowned Alverno learning experience.”

While the entire expansion project will qualify for U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, Alverno will not pursue the widely recognized distinction, opting instead to invest the high cost of the certification process into its students.

The expansion and renovation, the most significant enhancement in Alverno’s 126-year history, is being financed with the college’s Promise and Power fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign has raised more than $28 million of its $30 million goal with more than $1 million raised already this year.

Besides the Commons, renovations to parts of Alverno’s Liberal Arts building are scheduled to be complete in September. The college’s new Alexia Hall, which includes a high-tech nursing simulation center, classrooms, art and dance studios, and gallery, opens in early 2015. All construction should be completed by the end of August 2015.

More information about the project and construction progress is available at Alverno’s current campus was built in 1953 for 800 students and today is home to one of America’s largest women’s colleges. Enrollment has grown by 35 percent during the past decade.

About Alverno College

Alverno College, a four-year independent, Catholic, liberal arts college for women, exists to promote the personal and professional development of its students. The college has earned accolades and respect internationally for its highly effective ability-based, assessment-as-learning approach to education, and has consulted with three U.S. presidential administrations on accountability and outcomes in higher education. For the last four years, Alverno College was ranked one of the top three schools in the Midwest doing “the best job of educating undergrads” by U.S. News & World Report. Educators from throughout the world visit Alverno to learn about its proven, student-centered teaching methods.

Alverno offers more than 35 major program areas of study, including graduate programs in education, nursing, community psychology and business that are open to women and men. For more information about Alverno, visit or call 414-382-6100.

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