Green Buildings Case Studies

Hands On Children’s Museum

414 Jefferson St NE, Olympia, WA 98501
Kathy Irwin, Director of Exhibits & Facilities (contact)

Architect: The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle, Washington
Building Size: 27,627 sq. ft.
Project Budget: The New Hands On Children’s Museum on East Bay is an $18M Public Private Partnership project which includes a 28,000 sq. ft. LEED Silver building, 30,000 sq. ft. Outdoor Discovery Center and dedicated parking on approximately 2 acres in the downtown waterfront. 
Opening Date: Main Building: November 2012, Outdoor Discovery Center: August 2013
LEED Certification: Silver
Green Globes Certification: {rating}, the first children’s museum in the world to receive this certification

Awards and Honors
In 2013, the Hands On Children's Museum received a $65,000 grant from the Association of Children's Museums and The Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of Fidelity Charitable for its Outdoor Discovery Center. The Center was chosen by the association to be one of only three "Going Wild!" pilot sites nationwide designed to reconnect children with nature.

About the Museum’s Sustainable Expansion Project:
The Hands On Children’s Museum is the anchor project in a multi-million dollar waterfront revitalization on Olympia’s East Bay waterfront. This exciting new facility has allowed the Museum to expand its nationally award-winning exhibits and add a beautiful new half-acre Outdoor Discovery Center. The New Museum aims to  be a model nationwide weaving best practices in early learning with a focus on the environment.

The Museum's Decision to Go Green:
Since its inception, the Museum has maintained a commitment to a green vision through our exhibits, education programs and operations. This commitment exemplifies the values of our region’s history, which is inextricably linked to the Northwest’s precious natural resources. The New Museum provides an exciting opportunity to deepen this commitment by intentionally designing the facility for sustainability, by cleaning a brown field site, and by designing educational experiences that foster a sense of environmental stewardship.

How Project is Sustainable: 
TheMuseum is the centerpiece in a cluster of new projects that will incorporate sustainable building practices and innovative environmental partnerships. The entire East Bay development is located on a historic contamination site, and its public partners are working to convert the former industrial area into a safe, attractive, community amenity. The Museum’s new facility is intentionally designed to be a leader in sustainable building practices achieving LEED Certification, using reclaimed water, and participating in an exciting co-generation project that will capture waste methane gas from the nearby wastewater treatment facility to heat and cool the Museum. 

Project's Distinguishing Features:

  • Brownfield redevelopment that cleaned an industrial site and restored it to public use
  • Both the new building design and Outdoor Discovery Center maximize open space and create new habitat
  • Water efficient landscaping that reduces irrigation needs by 50%
  • Warm-water loop connection to Hands On Children’s Museum from neighboring LOTT Alliance Wastewater Treatment and Educational Facility (district heating/cooling)
  • Use of regional and reclaimed building materials throughout the facility
  • Use of reclaimed water to flush toilets and irrigate plantings as well as a site feature and as an educational focus
  • Collection storage for numerous recyclables as part of waste management operations
  • Use of low emitting materials (paints, adhesives, flooring materials and composite wood)
  • Daylight in 75% of the spaces and views in 90% of the spaces to reduce energy and  lift moods
  • Building orientation to the south to take advantage of the sun’s warmth
  • Storm water design, quality control, sends runoff straight to LOTT
  • Museum access by alternative transportation including bus, bikes and walking. The Museum is designed with a bus stop nearby, bike parking,  reserved parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Intentionally designed exhibits that connect children to nature, use sustainable materials and reduce waste
  • The use of local fabricators whenever possible. Reduces carbon footprint, retains dollars in the community, and creates stronger local support in the museum.
  • Re-purposing materials through exhibit and facility fabrication: Local middle school gym floor for a table, driftwood from the beach rather than faux, barn wood for several exhibits, rustic maple ends for hardwood flooring.

Piece of advice for others regarding project: 
While Going Green can be more work and involve interesting decisions, it is rewarding, well-received and often opens many new avenues of funding.

New or Upcoming Green Projects:
We are constantly developing exhibits that will support “green goals” of the new facility.