In Georgia, aesthetics and ethics combine in the newly expanded and remodeled building that houses the Georgia Museum of Art (GMA) at the University of Georgia, Athens (UGA), which recently took LEED Gold certification. The remodel was designed with LEED certification in mind, and makes use of a number of green building systems.
Among those are a number of systems employed with water conservation in mind, including a rainwater harvesting and collection system, which also collects condensation from the building’s air conditioners. This water is collected in two 25,000-gallon cisterns buried adjacent to the new addition, which were designed to supply water to the building’s native, drought tolerant landscaping — equipped with a high-efficiency irrigation system — as well as to a fountain in the museum’s Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden. The museum also installed low-flow plumbing fixtures that will reduce water consumption by 44 percent.
The building makes use of “efficient and sophisticated mechanical systems” and a tight building envelope to achieve an overall energy savings of 18.5 percent every year as compared to conventional, similar structures. This includes the use of natural daylighting in corridors and galleries, despite the fact that direct daylight can be harmful to works of art — the museum got around this with deeply recessed and shaded skylights that render all natural light in the building indirect.
The effect is both efficient and intriguing, according to the museum, as visitors sense the light, but its source remains obscure.
Refrigerants and HVAC equipment that minimize emissions of ozone-depleting compounds were employed for the remodel, as were low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants. The museum has also enrolled in UGA’s green cleaning program, which helps to improve indoor air quality across the campus by replacing hazardous cleaning chemicals with safer, environmentally-friendly products. The expanded portions of the building were constructed over a former parking lot, helping to reduce its impact on the surrounding natural environment.
With its recent certification, Georgia Museum of Art joins UGA’s Tate II and building 1516 (a new residence hall) in becoming LEED Gold certified.