By May 2028, the first net zero energy and carbon-neutral building in the Minnesota State system will be right here at Winona State University. 

The Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Engagement and Learning (CICEL) will utilize solar panels on the outside of the building and will be designed to be water-balanced, low-waste, and toxin-free.  

The project also plans to include additional greenspace on campus, to continue follow through on the 2007 Climate Commitment. 

Working into larger plans on campus, CICEL supports the Leading Energy Savings and Sustainability (LESS) initiative, which is a campus-wide energy savings and sustainability project that is reducing WSU’s carbon imprint by 25 percent and makes WSU the most energy-efficient university in the Minnesota State System. 

“CICEL complements the LESS project with the addition of a new energy efficient building on campus,” said Charla Miertschin, Dean, College of Science & Engineering.  

The construction plan for CICEL will involve the demolition of Watkins and Gildemeister Halls, two outdated facilities that no longer adequately serve today’s students and faculty. 

Constructing a new building with better materials and design will reduce the annual building operating costs by 50%, avoid 1.8 million pounds of carbon emissions, and reduce the annual campus energy use by 3.7%.    

In addition to achieving WSU’s sustainability goals, the new $84 million, 73,000-square-foot building will offer a wide variety of modern learning styles and include active-learning classrooms, maker spaces and studios, and high-tech computer labs. 

CICEL will co-locate the Art & Design, Computer Science, and Mathematics & Statistics departments in a collaborative, sustainable, and healthy environment. A facility that meets the technology-rich demands of these departments is something to be excited about.

Charla Miertschin

Dean, College of Science & Engineering, Winona State University