Green Buildings Case Studies

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

10 Children's Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

412.322.5058 (p)
412.322.4932 (f)

Chris Siefert, Deputy Director

Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Design Architect
Perkins Eastman Architects, Executive Architect
Building Size: 80,000 sf
Project Budget: 10 Million (approximately $125/sf)
Opening Date: November 6, 2004
LEED Certification: Silver

About Pittsburgh's Sustainable Expansion Project:
The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's (CMP) expansion project (opened November 2004) is the largest LEED Certified Silver museum in the country. Developed by the US Green Building Council, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

The Museum's Decision to Go Green:
The CMP views the LEED effort as a natural extension of the museum's mission. Thus, it was a collective decision made very early in the process by the board and staff. The effort only serves to further endorse the expansion as an example of best practices, a model project for how museums should grow.

How Pittsburgh's Project is Sustainable:
LEED provides a holistic framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. In order to achieve a rating, a project must meet certain prerequisites as well as attain numerous credits in each category — thus affording different levels of recognition (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum).

Project's Distinguishing Features:

  1. The CMP developed an innovative program where 'items of value' (things such as marble panels, doors, light fixtures etc.) were salvaged from the existing historic buildings (diverted from landfills) and made available to the community at large through a third party nonprofit organization. This promotes conservation through the reuse of building materials
  2. The CMP purchases 100% of its electrical power from renewable sources (wind, hydro electric) and owns a 3 kWh photo voltaic system (solar panels)
  3. A large scale public art feature titled 'Articulated Cloud' that makes visible the invisible wind currents all around us, wraps the entire façade of the new facility (collaborative piece by Ned Kahn and Koning Eizenberg Architecture — visible from both outside and inside the new building)
  4. The expansion was built within close proximity to public transportation. Provisions were made for bicycle parking and locker rooms with a shower for staff
  5. The expansion utilizes dual flush toilets, low flow urinals and aerators at all faucets and no irrigation in the landscape thus reducing water use
  6. The mechanical systems are fully commissioned — all systems are tested and synced up, monitored and control with a digital automatic system. We have no CFC's in the mechanical equipment. The building's energy is optimized to perform at approximately 15% better than a base case of similar characteristics
  7. We have walk off mats and special controls in the plumbing at janitor closets to control pollutants being tracked through the facility
  8. We maintained 100% of the existing building shell and more than 50% of the non-shell (interior walls and ceilings). We diverted over 60% of construction waste to recycling companies
  9. We are using building materials that use high quantities of recycled materials and are locally manufactured and/or locally harvested
  10. The Indoor Air Quality meets the industry standards for healthy environments, there is no smoking in the facility and we monitor carbon dioxide emissions. Also, we can permanently monitor the thermal comfort levels to insure that they comply with industry standards for temperature and humidity levels
  11. Materials and Products: All adhesives, sealants, paints, carpets and composite wood are certified low-emitting — that is, they are formaldehyde free and have low volatile organic compounds thus reducing off gassing to near zero levels. Significant quantities of the wood used on the project is certified — that is, it comes from forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion
  12. We have a white roof so that we minimize 'heat islands'.  The museum established a small scale vegetated roof as a prototype and is considering the addition of more vegetated roofs in the future
  13. We have identified a specific area in the facility for the collection and storage of recyclables. We have recycle programs for office materials, our cafe etc.
  14. The CMP collaborated with the Green Building Alliance of Pittsburgh and Conservation Consultants, Inc. to develop new educational programs for visitors based on the LEED process and building features
  15. As a result of the LEED effort, the CMP now uses a certified green line of cleaners - all purpose cleaner, disinfectants, hard surface/glass cleaner and stainless steel cleaner. The cleaning solutions utilize a variety of measures towards providing ecologically sound, environmentally preferable, non toxic products.

Piece of advice for others regarding project:
Commit to the LEED process early, and don't waiver. In the design and construction industry, other professionals (architects, contractors, etc.) have goals and interests that may not coincide exactly with those of the host organization staff and board. Thus, I recommend a dedicated individual(s) to protect your interests and ultimately to negotiate through the numerous strategies it takes to deliver a LEED project (let's call this person the LEED Manager). The LEED Manager should report to the leadership of the institution directly. The LEED Manager may be responsible for other aspects of the project, yet must be given the tools they need to develop opportunities, monitor others and track goals. They should be versed in the LEED system (they don't necessarily need to be certified themselves) and have the ability to communicate on a variety of levels with all kinds of people. They can be a staff person or an outside consultant (I would recommend that their contract be directly with the institution, not through another party).

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Green Articles:

  • Go Green & Get Real, (pdf) Jane Werner (Pittsburgh Children’s Museum), Hand to Hand, volume 20, Spring 2006.
  • Kids’ Collage”, (pdf) Anne Militelo and Lisa D. Katz, Lighting Design & Application, June 2006.

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Awards:

Green Building Alliance 2006 Shades of Green Leadership Award: Jane Werner, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.