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Bainbridge Island Museum of Art has earned the vaunted LEED Gold environmental certification, making it the first new art museum in Washington state to achieve the Gold rating.
This accomplishment is thanks to a an expanded solar array that was installed in late 2016. The museum nearly doubled the size of its rooftop array to 100 modules, with projected 28-kilowatt output sufficient to put power back into the grid during the sunny summer months.
The solar array caps a host of advanced sustainability features that extend from the roof down into the soil beneath the museum itself.
“What’s thrilling about this achievement is that it affirms how deeply Bainbridge Island and the museum itself care about all aspects of community vitality and wellbeing,” said Sheila Hughes, BIMA executive director. “We live, work, visit and raise families in a place that invests equally and deeply in cultural enrichment and in sustainability. It’s wonderful to see BIMA’s LEED Gold status, made possible through the generosity of its local donors, as a leading example of both.”
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification – for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is a progressive code that rates new buildings for sustainability and promotes eco-friendly construction techniques.
Designed by Bainbridge architect Matthew Coates, of Coates Design Architects, BIMA earned high marks for innovation in design, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, and site sustainability.
“Art museums are inherently energy-intensive, making LEED Gold designation an extremely challenging goal,” Coates said. “We’re proud to demonstrate that architects, builders and clients can work together to create beautiful buildings for our environment and for our planet.”
General contractor PHC Construction of Bainbridge Island worked with the museum’s facility manager, Scott Farwell, and board member Ralph Spillinger to secure the LEED Gold certification. The newly expanded solar array provided the final “points” required under the LEED scoring system.
The array uses certified Made In Washington components, including modules by iTek Energy of Bellingham and microinverters by Blue Frog Solar/APsystems of Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo.
The power inverters were provided to the museum free of charge by Blue Frog, while the modules were provided by iTek at cost. Installer was Puget Sound Solar of Seattle.
Several private donors stepped in so that this project had no effect on the non-profit art museum’s budget.
BIMA opened in June 2013 to showcase contemporary Northwest art and has been an unqualified success, recently welcoming its 250,000th visitor.
Coates designed the museum to embody forward thinking in both building aesthetics and sustainable materials and systems.
That starts below ground. A geo-exchange system uses 14 bores beneath the foundation to reduce the energy used for heating and cooling the building. Drilled 400 feet, the bores act as a heat sink and source at a constant ground temperature of approximately 50 degrees. The system is designed to reduce heating and cooling energy by 90 percent, and to cut peak heating and cooling loads in half.
Thanks to the building’s southern exposure, nearly all of the publicly occupied spaces enjoy generous natural light to further reduce energy usage for lighting, while a sophisticated louver system across the glass façade tracks solar angles to reduce heat gain and glare inside.
Low-flow fixtures inside and climate-appropriate landscaping reduce water demand.
During construction, 95 percent of construction waste was recycled, while more than 20 percent of new materials came from recycled sources. All paints, sealants and materials were selected to be non-toxic.
Puget Sound Solar crew installing an expanded solar array atop Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. The expansion helped push BIMA to LEED Gold Certification. (Photo by Keith Brofsky)
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Board Member Ralph Spillinger and Facilities & Operations Manager Scott Farwell check in on progress during the expansion of BIMA’s solar array which led to BIMA’s LEED Gold Certification. (Photo by Keith Brofsky)