Milwaukee Millwork and Its Partners Donate Sustainable Materials to UWM Solar Decathlon Team

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Milwaukee Millwork, a leading distributor and manufacturer of doors, windows, and finished millwork to southeastern Wisconsin, has partnered with several of its suppliers to donate resource-efficient materials to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for use in its Meltwater House, the school’s entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon competition.

For some, ‘going green’ is just a buzzword, but the staff at Milwaukee Millwork is truly committed to assisting in environmentally-friendly building technologies and practices.

Milwaukee Millwork, a leading distributor and manufacturer of doors, windows, and finished millwork to southeastern Wisconsin, has partnered with several of its suppliers to donate resource-efficient materials to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for use in its Meltwater House, the school’s entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon competition. Held Oct. 8 - 16 in Washington, D.C., the Solar Decathlon featured 20 teams from colleges around the world who built houses representing the best blend of design aesthetics, modern conveniences, maximum energy products, and optimal efficiency.

Meltwater, a carbon-neutral and solar-powered house design, takes its name and is modeled from the landforms that resulted after the melting during Wisconsin’s glacial period. The home’s multi-functional and sustainable components are intended to adapt to the changing needs of its inhabitants. Designed as a self-sufficient ancillary unit to an existing house, the project also showcases the socioeconomic benefits to multi-generational living.

Milwaukee Millwork was contacted by UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning to aid in the construction of Meltwater, given the company’s expertise and past experience of speaking to the school’s students regarding high-performance building materials. Capitalizing on its role in the development of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, a Platinum LEED®-certified, self-sustaining building named after the late conservationist, the company delivered FSC-certified lumber from the Center’s plantation to UWM for its use as siding, interior flooring, and decking. Responsibly forested, the wood was also used by Milwaukee Millwork partner, Luck-based HOMESHIELD, in the construction of moulding and window components for the house.

With the assistance of Milwaukee Millwork, an innovative, brand-new technology was introduced to create high-performance glass in several awning windows and folding doors of the house. Cardinal Glass Industries, the largest insulted glass supplier in the world, produced the material in its Portage-based plant, using the highest-grade of silica sand available. Cardinal Glass’ Tomah location then added a triple layer of low emissivity coatings (Low-E), providing the most efficient solar heat gain and reducing energy costs. With a U-value superior to anything else on the market and argon-filled with warm edge air spacer technology, use of this specialized glass translates into improved thermal performance and less indirect heat lost from the interior of the home. H-Window Company in Ashland completed the process by adding a recycled, extruded aluminum cladding for a durable, low-maintenance exterior.

Another Milwaukee Millwork partner, North Star Surfaces, provided numerous renewable building materials, including Plyboo®, BIOFIBER™ Wheat, and PaperStone™. Used to construct Meltwater’s built-in cabinets, Plyboo is made out of bamboo, a sustainable grass. BIOFIBER Wheatboard, made out of the stems and stalks of wheat stubble, was used in placed of standard drywall. Environmentally-friendly, the Wheatboard actually produces a negative net greenhouse gas contribution, due to a greater amount of carbon dioxide being removed during the wheat’s growth cycle than is produced during the harvest and manufacturing of the product.

Meltwater’s countertops, tabletops, windows, and exterior doors were made of PaperStone; the house marks the first application of PaperStone in the world to be used for windows and doors. A composite of 100% post-consumer recycled paper and petroleum-free phenolic resins made from raw materials, such as cashew nut shell oil, the material is resistant to ice, snow, heat, and water - making it ideal for indoor and outdoor use. PaperStone is also non-porous, emits no radon gases, and withstands high-impact forces. It also has a high resistance to fire, with a Class A fire rating, and is being evaluated on local and national levels for use by government agencies.

GP Harmon, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific and based in Green Bay, also collected wastepaper and cardboard from Milwaukee Millwork and the UWM campus and converted it into recycled fiber and PaperStone. The materials were used for the creation of the countertops and door frames of Meltwater, in addition to substances like paper towels, napkins, and table cloths.

Centor Architectural, an award-winning manufacturer of weathersealed hardware for large-scale bi-fold and sliding doors, located in Batavia, Ill., partnered with H-Window to open up the entire north wall of the house, a 12 feet expanse of glass.

Emtek, through a Green Bay distributor, also provided much of the hardware for the swinging doors of Meltwater, including deadbolts and hinge locks.

“We are honored to have been asked to aid in the construction of the revolutionary and sustainable Meltwater project,” says Greg Adamec, general manager for Milwaukee Millwork. “For some, ‘going green’ is just a buzzword, but the staff at Milwaukee Millwork is truly committed to assisting in environmentally-friendly building technologies and practices.”

The Urban Ecology Center, a community-based organization headquarted in Milwaukee that provides opportunities for environmental education and local stewardship, will be taking over ownership of the building as a teaching space in the city’s Menomonee Valley. It will serve as a means to demonstrate the potentials of sustainable design, including solar energy in residential applications.

Milwaukee Millwork is a leading distributor and manufacturer of windows, doors, wood mouldings, cabinets, stair parts, custom millwork, and related hardware for commercial contractors, homebuilders, and remodeling contractors. A locally-managed firm serving southeastern Wisconsin and the Midwest for more than 50 years, Milwaukee Millwork offers an expansive showroom featuring full displays of product lines it supplies and maintains. For more information and to learn about the company’s range of product lines, view Milwaukee Millwork's Web site, call (414) 774-8248, or visit the showroom at 11712 W. Dixon St., Milwaukee.

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