A $50,000 Step Toward Green

Erie Art Museum Awarded Grant from The Kresge Foundation.

Erie, PA, December 04, 2008 --(PR.com)-- The Erie Art Museum’s $9 million building expansion project has taken one green giant step forward toward its vision of developing an energy efficient building that will sustain programs and services.

The Kresge Foundation, a $3.5 billion private foundation, has awarded the Erie Art Museum $50,000 through its Green Building Initiative towards the planning costs associated with designing a green building. Through the Green Building Initiative, Kresge awards planning grants to nonprofit organizations to underwrite the integrated design process necessary for historic preservation, green renovation, or new construction that aims to achieve the highest levels of environmental sustainability.

“The Erie Art Museum has a unique opportunity to advance the environmental and ecological efforts of this region by developing a design which incorporates historical preservation, sustainable re-use, ecological conservation, and environmental education,” said John Vanco director of the Erie Art Museum. “The location of the Museum adds strength to regional efforts for a downtown revitalization supporting increased tourism, commerce and business development.”

The Museum began the architectural design process in 2006 with the intention of creating an energy efficient building, but not pursuing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“In early 2007, as the design team was grappling with value engineering to bring the design/development phase of the project to conclusion and on budget, the opportunity arose to acquire the Erie County Historical Society’s property at 419 State Street,” said Vanco. “This essentially necessitated restarting the design process and led to a reexamination of the LEED certification process.”

LEED is a third-party certification program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

“The acquisition of the 419 State Street property improved the efficiency and scope of the project and facilitated the pursuit of LEED Silver certification,” said Vanco. “The grant funds received from Kresge will cover additional costs required to seek the LEED certification, including the costs of modeling various heating and cooling options, water use analysis, storm water management, green landscaping and energy efficient lighting.”

The green building features under consideration include the sustainable re-use of landmark historic buildings, water re-use and management (waterless/low-flow systems, drain inlets protected, rainwater management), native plants used in landscaping, passive solar system, with passive heating (entry windows will face the south where canopies and awnings may be utilized to balance heating needs during winter months etc.), use of natural lighting to minimize energy usage (new glazed openings at the first floor of the Annex building), building orientation (new entrance) designed to capture maximize natural lighting, energy efficiency features (HVAC system), minimal use of carpet and other floor/wall finishes, and environmental recycling and educational programs.

“Few art museums can simultaneously combine historical preservation and reuse, anchor a major part of a downtown improvement district, and provide environmental education,” said Vanco. “The Erie Art Museum renovation and new construction project represents regional and national innovation in sustainable design and reuse of an historical building that occupies a prime location in Erie’s downtown business district. The Museum will be the first LEED-certified green building in the City of Erie.”

About the $9 million Expansion Project
The Erie Art Museum’s renovation and expansion project includes the renovation of an existing 15,000 square feet of building space and the addition of 10,000 square feet of space. The project consists of a link between the Art Museum’s main building (Old Custom House) on State Street and the Museum’s Annex, which fronts on both State and Fifth Streets. Included will be four major galleries, a number of smaller galleries, a 250-person performance space, a public meeting space at a new unified entrance, and other visitor amenities. The Erie Art Museum has already secured $7.2 million in public and private funding for the expansion and renovation project including $3.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and $1 million from the Erie Art Museum’s Board of Directors.

About the Erie Art Museum
The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multi-disciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 5,500 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, free on Wednesdays, $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students and $2 for children under 12.

For additional information on the Erie Art Museum, visit online at http://www.erieartmuseum.org/ or call (814) 459-5477.

Tammy Roche