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Kresge funds green design

From M, winter 2006

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings in the U.S. account for 36 percent of total energy use, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and 30 percent of raw materials use. It will be a different story at the James Ford Bell Museum's hoped-for new facility on the U's St. Paul Campus, where operational goals may include zero net energy, zero runoff, zero waste, and an increase in the biodiversity of the building site. Thanks to a planning grant from the Kresge Foundation's Green Building Initiative, the Bell's proposed new facility, now in the design phase, will incorporate sustainable building design (or green building), adding dimension to the Bell's mission to deepen understanding of the natural world. Its design, construction, and operation will make a minimal draw on nonrenewable resources, and high priority will be given to respecting the physical environment. "The Bell Museum will become a landmark building where people come to learn about sustainability in building design," says John Carmody, director of the Center for Sustainable Building Research and the project's "green champion." Since 1872, the Bell Museum has provided education, outreach, and research that helps us understand the beauty and complexity of human relationships with the natural world. Today museum personnel delve into complex issues such as sustainable agriculture and forestry and water management. "Our mission is all about how humans interact with the environment," explains Bell Museum Director Scott Lanyon. It is hoped that the new Bell museum will become a living laboratory to study that interaction. "As the state's natural history museum, it's important that we demonstrate best practices in sustainable building," explains Lanyon. "The Kresge Grant allows us to integrate green building principles right from the start of the design process, rather than applying a 'green Band-Aid' later on." Pending state support and additional private gifts and federal appropriations, the new Bell Museum is expected to open on the St. Paul Campus in 2009-10.