It is important to note that the term “green museums” encompasses a wide range of educational institutions. We tend to think of sustainable measures being implemented in just art museums, but in fact that is not the case. The purpose of this blog and our company is show that all cultural/living/historic institutions can save money, become more efficient and act as models leading the way in green building.
The Virginia Living Museum, home to over 250 species of animals and plants found throughout Virginia, just installed 165 solar panels on a southern exposure. It is a bold move, spokeswoman Virginia Gabriele says, “is not only to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint and its electric bill, but to educate visitors on solar power and even encourage them to try it at home.” The installation when it is up and running, is expected to save the museum more than $5,000 in electricity costs in its first year, plus prevent the release of more than 41 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The project will be unveiled during the Museum’s Earth Day Celebration on April 20th.
These kind of projects require funds that usually museums don’t possess. This particular one was funded with a $150,000 grant from Dominion Virginia Power’s charitable foundation and nearly $15,000 donated by Bay Electric Co., which installed the panels. Dominion is Virginia largest power company and according to Glen Besa, Virginia director of the Sierra Club, the state of Virginia continues to fall behind because Dominion isn’t making a “serious commitment to bringing job-creating solar, wind and energy efficiency to our state.” Let’s hope that Dominion partnering up Virginia Living Museum helps to change that outlook. Virginia itself happens to fall among the bottom 25 states in terms of solar power in a survey Solar Energy Industries Association.
All in all the museum is thrilled to have a new energy source and a new educational outlet. Fred Farris, the museum’s deputy executive director, says the “solar array has the potential to be an impressive educational display in support of alternative energy, due both to its size and its placement in close contact with the public. Not only will guests be learning about solar generation of electricity, but they will also get to see and learn about the incredible source of that energy: our sun.” Kudos to the Living Museum for making a commitment to a more sustainable future, I’m sure the animals and plans would be thrilled if they knew!