Smithsonian Opens First LEED Platinum Building

September 19, 2014

Mathias Lab, the Smithsonian's greenest building. Photo Chuck Gallegos

After three and a half years of construction, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on the Chesapeake Bay today opened the Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory. It is the institution's first LEED Platinum certified building, with a geothermal heating and cooling system and an array of solar panels. The lab will recycle all of its water, even capturing rainwater in cisterns to irrigate a nearby wetland. Research environments are often highly energy intensive and typically consume three-to-four times as much electricity as other buildings. In contrast, this Mathias Lab will emit 37 percent less carbon dioxide than a conventional research facility. "The new lab provides us flexible space for future cutting-edge research," said the Center's Director Anson "Tuck" Hines. "Biogenomics, conservation biology, global change—these are all at the forefront of environmental science today. The new lab gives our scientists the ability to explore new territory in a more sustainable way." 

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