For almost 12 years, the Los Angeles Getty Center has been committed to going green and becoming an earth friendly museum by minimizing waste and reducing energy use. In 2005, its environmental leadership has even enabled the Getty Museum to become the first facility in the United States to be LEED certified for an existing building, earning a bronze certification. This green initiative launched by the Los Angeles Getty Center has led to a global greening of U.S. Museums. But first, here is what makes the Getty green:
Every day, several hundred visitors and staff members come in and out of the Getty Center, producing waste and consuming energy during their visit. As a sector that celebrates and preserves culture and heritage from around the world, U.S. museums have the responsibility to take an active part in the green movement by introducing simple green practices in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Located in Los Angeles California, the Getty Center was among the first U.S museums that engaged in new sustainable practices:
Since 2001, the Getty museum has reduced power consumption by 10 percent through alternative transportation incentives, landscaping, innovative lighting plans, and waste recycling:
- Thousands of incandescent lights have been replaced with compact fluorescent lamps that use nearly 80 percent less electricity. Lighting schedules were reduced in buildings and parking structures when no staff or visitors were present.
- Carpool/vanpool programs and extensive alternative transportation incentives have enabled the Getty to reduce employee trips as well as entrance fees for visitors who arrive by public transportation. Those who use alternative transportation can enjoy the Getty for free since they won’t have to pay $15 to park and there is no charge for admission.
- Green architecture: The green roofs on parking garages and offices reduce heat on both the surfaces and in the buildings below. The Getty Center limits sound levels to reduce noise pollution and uses efficient natural lights to limit the use of artificial light. Outdoor lighting is shielded to minimize light pollution in the night sky.
- For its garden, the Getty Center uses efficient irrigation techniques and drought tolerant plants. Each spring, goats come to the Getty to clear brush and reduce fire danger on the hillside. The museum recycles an additional 357 tons of green waste that the goats don’t eat!
- Green staff: Maintenance personnel receive 24 hours of training annually, and use low-impact cleaning and pest management practices. Staff uses high-recycled content paper products; Getty kitchen pantries are stocked with reusable glass and china, rather than disposable cups and plates. The Getty Center recycles 148 tons of general waste and 47 tons of construction waste. Similarly, to reduce food waste, Bon Appétit Management Company, which provides food service at both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa, gives Getty staff and visitors another opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint with the Low Carbon Diet program which minimizes the greenhouse gas emissions from producing, processing, packaging, and shipping the food sold in the museum.
Over the last few years, these environmental efforts have enabled the Getty Museum to cut water use for irrigation by 33 percent, to recycle half of their total waste, and to save about $500,000 a year in energy consumption. And, above all, on April 22nd, 2008, the Getty Center celebrated Earth day by unveiling its new Silver-level LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Until recently, the greening of U.S. Museums was a relatively rare phenomenon, however things are changing and other museums are following the environmental path of the Los Angeles Getty Center toward green museums.
Stay tuned to learn more about the greening of other museums throughout the world.