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Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Sustainability Updates on Bowdoin College Museum of Art Renovations

In the fall of 2005 Bowdoin College developed its own set of renovation design guidelines that focus on sustainable design and strengthening Bowdoin’s commitment to environmental stewardship.  This is an update as of May 1, 2007 on the sustainability features that have been included in Bowdoin College Museum of Art renovation project.  View the complete design standards.

Sustainable Sites

  • With the exception of the Pavillion and the new additions on the north and west sides, the Walker project was able to limit the development footprint by expanding the use of underground space – thus limiting site disturbance. The use of underground space also reduces heat islands.  The insulating properties of the earth reduce the heat and cooling loads for these areas.

  • No additional parking was required, limiting the heat island effect of the project.

  • Bike racks will be provided near the entrance to the building to encourage alternative transportation.

  • A large infiltration bed was added under the quad to locally absorb stormwater from the new roofs and plinth and minimize the impact on municipal drainage.

  • One existing paved campus path was eliminated (between the VAC and Walker) to keep trucks from driving over the underground link. This will now be grass.

Water Efficiency

  • In an effort to conserve water, the art museum renovations comply with the campus wide standard of planting only native plant species around the buildings.

  • The design of the project should result in no net increase in the amount of storm water directed into the Town’s stormwater system. 
  • With the intent of reducing the amount of potable water usage, the project utilizes low-flow plumbing fixtures and use of motion sensor flushometers and faucets to conserve water usage.

Energy & Atmosphere

  • Occupancy sensors have been installed on administrative office lights as an energy saving measure.

  • Where ever possible high efficiency fluorescent lamps were installed.

  • The original clerestory windows in the old building were replaced with insulated glass units.

  • Heat recovery units were installed to utilize recycled heat which will keep attic spaces warm and reduces the risk of condensation.

  • Non-CFC refrigerants were used in the cooling system.

  • The space will be efficiently managed using Bowdoin’s Energy Modeling System (EMS).  The EMS provides a very high level of oversight and control of building systems. This is critical to maintain constant temperature and humidity for the art but also significantly reduces the chance that energy will be wasted by poorly performing equipment.

  • The building will be fully commissioned to optimize energy efficiency.

  • While additional windows in the existing structure were impractical, the new additions to the building (west side and pavillion) maximize the use of natural daylight and limit the need for artificial light.  Five skylights will also provide additional daylight to the gallery spaces below.
  •  Sunshades were installed to new and existing clerestory windows on south and west facades to help control glare and solar heat gain in the museum.

Materials & Resources

  • The museum is equipped with a space to handle the recycling of paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and #1-7 plastics.

  • By renovating the museum instead of building a new museum at an alternate location the college saved natural resources and extended the lifecycle of the building.  The existing core and shell of the building contains an incredible amount of embodied energy.  The reuse of existing structures is the definition of sustainability.

  • 40% of demolition waste from the site was recycled using on site collection containers for each material.

  • Materials used in construction incorporated recycled and post-consumer content

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • CO2 monitoring is used in the galleries and public spaces to regulate the amount of fresh air required. If fresh air was required based on maximum occupancy at all times, a tremendous amount of energy would be required to heat/cool and humidify this large quantity of unneeded fresh air.

  • All interior paints and coatings contained low or no VOC levels.

  •  An indoor air quality (IAQ) program was used through out construction to protect duct work and absorptive materials to guard against mold growth and future IAQ issues.