Green Buildings Case Studies

Strong National Museum of Play®

One Manhattan Square
Rochester, NY 14607

Shane Rhinewald

Architect: Chaintreuil, Jensen, Stark
Building Size: 282,000 sq. ft (112,000 sq.-ft. expansion)
Project budget: $37 million
LEED Certification: Silver

For more on LEED certification, see:

About The Strong Museum’s Sustainable Expansion and Renovation:
The Strong museum’s expansion has nearly doubled the museum in size from 168,000 to 282,000 square feet. The new wing houses a 12,000 square-foot interactive exhibit about children's literature, a new school group entrance and four activity rooms, additional administrative offices and 30,000 square feet of underground collections storage. Another new gallery annex houses a 7,000-square-foot interactive exhibit about the importance of play in human development and learning. The expansion also includes the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden™, the first and only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York.

Strong Museum

The Museum's Decision to Go Green:
The expansion makes The Strong the second largest children’s museum in the country. Additionally, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Association of Museums and the National Endowment for the Humanities have all cited The Strong museum as a model in the museum field. As such, the museum chose to approach the expansion project in a responsible, forward-thinking manner with regard to environmental stewardship and conservation.

Strong Museum

Project's Distinguishing Features:

  • Secure bicycle storage with shower facilities for regular building occupants.
  • Energy Star compliant, reflective roofing to reduce thermal gradient differences between developed and undeveloped areas (heat island effect) to minimize the impact on human and wildlife habitat.
  • Exterior and interior lighting to eliminate light trespass from the building and site, thus improving night sky visibility.
  • High-efficiency irrigation technology to limit the use of potable water for landscape irrigation.
  • Aerators, low flow lavatories and flush valves that use 20% less water.
  • Zero use of CFC-based refrigerants in HVAC and refrigeration systems.
  • Mechanical systems that reduce energy cost by 20% and achieve a level of energy performance above the New York State Energy Conservation Code.
  • Construction Waste Management Plan that diverted 50% of construction, demolition and land clearing debris from landfill disposal.
  • Materials and products such as acoustical ceiling tile, steel, insulation, concrete with fly ash additive that contains recycled content as well as materials extracted and manufactured within the region, for example excavating and crushing bedrock on site for re-use.
  • Indoor Air Quality Management Plan for the construction and preoccupancy phases to help sustain the comfort and well-being of building occupants.
  • Reduction of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, potentially irritating and harmful to building occupants by purchasing adhesives, sealants and paints with low VOC content and carpet systems that exceed the requirements of the Green Label Indoor Air Quality Test Program.
  • Green housekeeping/cleaning practices using environmentally preferable (green-certified) cleaning products.
  • Ongoing purchase of materials from suppliers within a 500-mile radius to reduce pollution caused by trucking long distances.
  • Maintenance of good air quality through ventilation and filtration, avoidance of wood with formaldehyde resin and no smoking on the premises, indoors or out.

Strong Museum

Piece of advice for others regarding project:
“Going green” with a project of this size and scope requires significant planning. Because neither the architects nor the contractors on this project had much experience with sustainable practices, everyone faced a steep learning curve. Keeping costs in line proved challenging, too. However, by engaging a LEED Accredited Professional as part of the project team, the museum was able to ensure the design integration required by a green building project and to streamline the process toward LEED certification.