American Indian Museum Gets LEED Star

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., has long been noted as an architectural icon. Now it has another feather in its cap: LEED Silver status as conferred by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The museum achieved this certification via the usual mix of energy savings, water efficiency, indoor environmental air quality and attention to sustainable siting, but it has some unique green aspects as well, including landscaping that includes nearly 150 species of plants representing four local indigenous bio-regions: an upland hardwood forest, lowland freshwater wetlands, eastern meadowlands and traditional croplands.

Additionally, the museum supports  environmental research and public programs like the Living Earth Festival, the Indigenous Farmer’s Program and the newly launched environmental website for educators, American Indian Responses to Environmental Challenges — all of which is part of its aim to “reflect traditional knowledge that has been developed over millennia by Native Americans with the living earth.”

National Museum of the American Indian

image via Smithsonian Institute

Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum, noted that LEED status is an achievement that not only signifies the Smithsonian Institution’s commitment to sustainability, but advances the museum’s mission to share traditional indigenous values such as stewardship and conservation.

The building features a water-efficient and sustainable surrounding landscape, onsite and offsite use of renewable energy, and recycling and waste management. It is the first Smithsonian museum building to achieve LEED certification.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.