Green—and Gold

February 2, 2015
Index Magazine

Green—and Gold

The energy-conserving light of LED bulbs is less expensive to operate, produces less heat, and lasts much longer than other light bulbs. 

Just about two months after the new Harvard Art Museums opened, the facility achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Thomas W. Lentz, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, said that with this honor, the museums are “proud to be the newest member of Harvard’s green campus.”

“We always knew the new Harvard Art Museums would be deeply connected to Harvard’s core mission, and that included sustainability,” Lentz recently told the Harvard Gazette. “We worked in close partnership with the university’s green building experts over the years to realize a new facility that would support Harvard’s commitment to environmental sustainability and spur green innovation in the museum world.”

Among the museums’ eco-friendly features are the glass Light Machine, a giant skylight that reduces the need for artificial light in the Calderwood Courtyard and helps to regulate the interior temperature; energy-efficient LED bulbs that illuminate the installations in the galleries; and a cutting-edge water recovery system shared by the neighboring Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. The sustainable approach to the building’s construction—with 98 percent of all construction-related waste and debris diverted from landfills—was another reflection of the museums’ commitment to sustainability.

“[W]e wanted to set the standard for energy conservation and green building in the museum setting,” said Peter Atkinson, the museums’ director of facilities planning and management. Due to careful planning and conscientious implementation, as well as plans for maintaining the museums’ path-setting efficiency, that aim is now a reality.