Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Green Exhibits

One of the building trends in the museum business is GREEN.

Clients and visitors are, rightfully, concerned about the materials used to create both museum buildings and exhibitions. In many ways, children's museums have been leading the way in the green revolution.

Brenda Baker and her colleagues at the Madison Children's Museum have been concerned about the types of materials traditionally used in exhibits (lots of plastics and volatile chemicals) and have really worked hard to create more eco-friendly displays. One great product of their work is the website greenexhibits.org a wonderful compendium of information for everyone concerned about green materials.

The other program that children's museums lead the way in is LEED certification of their buildings.

What is LEED? The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Several notable examples of new, or soon-to-be-completed, building projects from the children's museum world can be found in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, and Helena, MT.

Unfortunately, green buildings and exhibit supplies are often more expensive than their "non green" substitutes, so it takes a real commitment on behalf of clients and designers to push green design. But, thanks to websites such as greenexhibits.org we all can have a better idea of what our eco-friendly design options are.