Going Green at the Museum Committing to a softer footprint on Mother Earth

Going Green at the Museum Committing to a softer footprint on Mother Earth by Ann for everyone
Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:32 am    Post subject:


“Going Green at the Museum
Committing to a softer footprint on Mother EarthLittle more than three years after opening in September 2004, the National Museum of the American Indian is now considered one of the greenest buildings on the National Mall. Staff and managers responsible for various aspects of the museum’s operations and maintenance have worked to make the building a safe and healthy environment for visitors and employees. Here are some of the ways in which NMAI is going green.

In 2006 NMAI became the first Smithsonian museum to start recycling in its interior public areas. Recycling for staff areas has been in effect since the 2004 opening.

The building management team has searched for and found products that are environmentally safe for our employees and visitors. NMAI’s custodial area was the first on the Mall to change to environmentally safe paper products, hand soap, waxes, strippers, and cleaning chemicals. Currently all paper products and hand soap used in NMAI’s restrooms are environmentally safe. About 85 percent of the chemicals used regularly for cleaning are green certified. In cases where green alternatives are not yet available or sufficiently effective, building management is researching new product developments.

For its brochures and printed materials, NMAI increasingly uses paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC certification involves principles and criteria to ensure that forests are managed in a responsible manner that makes them a truly renewable resource. These criteria also address legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, and environmental impacts to promote a wide range of environmental and social benefits.

NMAI’s renowned Mitsitam Cafe also pursues a healthy and environmentally friendly course. While the cafe is not wholly organic, the kitchen strives to use organic products or at least those that are all-natural. The cafe serves only grass-fed buffalo, hormone-free chicken, and cage-free eggs. Salmon, a regular part of the Pacific Northwest cuisine, is all wild-caught. All seafood served at the cafe is produced sustainably or in environmentally sound ways, avoiding overfished species or fish caught by methods that are wasteful or depleting.

The landscaping around the museum uses integrated pest control management, a series of techniques for controlling pests without chemicals. This process includes the annual release of thousands of ladybugs, a colorful public event.

Thanks to all these efforts, NMAI is on its way towards LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The rating system for existing buildings includes credits in the areas of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

LEED certification is prestigious, and it would be an honor to be LEED certified. But that is not the principal goal for those involved in making the museum on the National Mall an environmentally friendly place. The prize is to create a safe and healthy environment for the people who work here and, most especially, our many visitors. The commitment is to continually endeavor to lessen our footprint on Mother Earth.”

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