Recently, I was alerted by the director of NJ’s Community Green, a terrific green organization, about this wonderful green building exhibit at my local museum. I just could not fathom a green building exhibit in my hometown. Sure enough The Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey was the host of the National Building Museum’s Green Building exhibit (“NBM”) from February 11 through May 4, 2008. At first, I thought why do I need to go to an exhibit to see green building products? I lived, breathed, and ate green building products for two years when I built my house. I arrogantly thought, what possibly could I learn there that I already did not know?
The minute I walked into the room I realized I was in the company of some of the most incredible architectural displays of contemporary green buildings. My arrogance turned to humility then to awe as I perused the 21 different contemporary residential and mix use exhibits that contained scaled models of the buildings and large boards of their notable features. Some of my favorites were as follows:
Greenbridge, a multi-use development by McDonough and Partners between Carrboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which will consume 35% less energy than a similar designed building according to the National Energy Code. When it is built, it will be LEED gold certified, and feature cradle to cradle design.
Verde Via in the Bronx, NY, is an affordable and sustainable planned housing development, which will be built on a Brownfield. Anticipated Completion is 2011. It will contain a dynamic garden, and the project is anticipated to be LEED gold certified.
Vikki located in Finland is being designed to generate solar and wind energy as well as direct rainwater to communal gardens to preserve the marshlands. The complex is being built in the geographical center of Finland’s largest city.
I wish that they would have displayed more traditional and transitional residences so people could see that sustainable design can take many different forms. My house is a testimonial to the fact that you can be green and traditional.
Photo of the reflection room
In the adjacent room was a short video of Architect Michele Kaufman’s prefabricated glide house, which incorporated solar, abundance of daylight, and low voc, sustainable materials. This is a wonderful video and it can be seen on the NBM’s site.
On the same side of the exhibit as the Glide house are displays of 60 different green materials for the floor, walls, countertops and ceilings. Materials chosen contained a high level of renewable, reusable, and durable characteristics with a low level of embodied energy use, and environmental impact for both indoor and outdoor environments. I was in heaven. I could see and touch some materials that I knew about but never saw in person. Some of my favorite materials were Sina Pearson’s recycled wall coverings, DuraPalm® mature coconut flooring, and MIO Co, LLC’s 3-D V2 recycled wallpaper. It was hard to narrow down the list to three materials.
In addition to the material displays, there were interactive exhibits that illustrate the five elements of sustainability: wisely using the land, working with the sun, creating high-performance and energy-efficient houses, improving indoor air quality, and wisely using the earth’s material resources. Some of the exhibits included the helidon, which illustrates how orientation of a house can optimizes natural heating and cooling as well as several “how to exhibits” for solar photonics, improving your indoor air quality, and creating high performance and moisture resistant houses. The NMB website contains more detailed information about the relationship of these five elements and sustainability.
At the present time, the museum’s next destination is unknown. This is a remarkable exhibit. I would encourage everyone who either wants to learn about sustainability or encourage others to be greener to urge their city’s museums to bring this exhibit to your area. See the details as to the cost and space requirements. You can tell them that even an old greenie like me learned some new tricks.
Photos by permission of The Green House: New Directions In Sustainable Architecture Exhibition Installation View ©NBM 2006 Photographer: Hoachlander Davis Photography