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California Academy of Sciences: A Visit to the Greenest Museum in the World

Posted By Beth Terry On December 23, 2008 @ 12:46 am In entertainment and recreation,Events,Global Warming & Energy Conservation | 10 Comments

What’s it like inside the world’s greenest museum? That’s what I wanted to find out. Michael, David, and Nancy just wanted to explore and have a good time. So we all BARTed out to Golden Gate Park on Saturday to visit the new California Academy of Sciences museum [1].

Michael and I arrived first and checked out the cafeteria, conveniently located right inside the front doors. There was lots of organic food in evidence, as well as compostable foodware. There were also chips and cookies in plastic wrap and Mylar bags. Ah well. Nothing’s ever perfect, is it? Checking out the unattended waste station with its bins labeled Recycle, Compost, and Landfill, we spied all types of waste indiscriminately tossed into all three containers, as well as visitors reading the signs and incorrectly attempting to guess what they meant.

A staff member posted at the waste station to help educate guests might have been in order. Michael and Nancy suggested that perhaps it’s more economical for the museum to just pay someone to sort it all after the fact. “Still,” I argued, “It’s an educational institution. It’s their job to educate, right?” The raised eyebrows I received in response told me to drop it. Yep. Sometimes the perfectionist in me is really irritating.

Catching my green spirit, Michael was excited to discover the sign posted over the water fountains advocating San Francisco’s tap water instead of bottled water. And of course, he had his Klean Kanteen on hand to refill.

The first floor of the museum is home to an extensive display on Global Warming:

That was kinda interesting, but we were more interested in the stuffed animals:

Did you know that sharks eat fake plastic toys?

The museum houses a four-story rainforest, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a natural history museum all under one roof. Here are a few more photos to entice you to visit. At the end of the post are some facts about what makes this museum the greenest (to date) in the world.

According to its October 8, 2008 press release [2], the Academy’s building earns a total of 54 points in the LEED system, the highest sustainability rating of any museum in the world. Building features:

* A living roof planted with 9 native California species which do not require artificial irrigation contains the largest collection of native vegetation in San Francisco. The living roof absorbs rainwater and helps to prevent runoff from carrying pollutants into the eco-system. It also provides an insulating layer for the building.
* Radiant floor heating & heat recovery systems
* Solar cells provide 10% of the Academy’s energy needs, and flowing water from the bathroom faucets causes an internal turbine to generate power and charge a battery pack.
* Natural light & ventilation (90% of regularly occupied spaces have access to daylight and outside views)
* Gray water system is used to flush toilets & low flow fixtures reduce the need for potable water.
* Salt water for the aquarium is piped in from the Pacific Ocean!

Read more about the building’s unique environmental features here [2].

And read more about the Academy’s sustainability efforts here [3].

Want to go? We didn’t have time to visit the planetarium or to see all the exhibits we would have liked to, including the tour of the green features of the museum. (The 25 minute 3D Bugs! movie [4] was awesome and took up a lot of our time.) Let me know when you’re free. I’d be happy to go again!

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URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/12/california-academy-of-sciences-visit-to/

URLs in this post:

[1] California Academy of Sciences museum: http://www.calacademy.org/

[2] October 8, 2008 press release: http://www.calacademy.org/newsroom/releases/2008/leed_platinum.php

[3] Academy’s sustainability efforts here: http://www.calacademy.org/sustainable_future/

[4] 3D Bugs! movie: http://www.giantscreenbugs.com/

[5] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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