Sustainability at AMNH
The American Museum of Natural History established a Sustainable Practices Committee in 1998.
Between FY03-FY08, a series of creative and highly effective energy savings initiatives reduced our electricity consumption by 16% and our steam consumption by 34%. This has produced $5 million in savings relative to the budget for the City.
Through the generous support of the City of New York under the Mayor's PlaNYC initiative, the Museum received funding for new energy-savings projects such as more efficient air conditioning in public halls, as well as energy-efficient lighting and lighting occupancy sensors in non-public areas. Through additional funding provided by the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum is in the process of installing compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the Museum which will help reduce our total electricity consumption by roughly 4% per year.
The Museum recycles 32% of its total waste with its paper and cardboard recycling efforts. It also recycles glass bottles, tin cans, plastic bottles, batteries, electronic equipment, and toner cartridges.
The Museum salvages computer equipment; old computer components are picked up and restored for resale.
Green Seal-certified cleaning products that are better for human health and the environment are used throughout the building.
Our restaurant vendor is purchasing organic and locally grown fruit and vegetables from farmers who harvest within a 100-mile radius.
The Museum moved to stainless steel pump dispensers and one ounce paper cups for condiments in its restaurants and eliminated the waste and garbage hauling of more than 40,000 plastic condiment packets a week.
The Museum only serves fish that are sustainably and sensitively harvested (i.e. not overfished; not caught using methods that impact other fish species).
All self-packaged products (e.g. parfait cups, packaged salads and sandwiches, etc.) in the Museum restaurants and employee cafeteria are made from biodegradable materials. Food is packaged in biodegradable "clamshells" made out of renewable materials including sugar cane and grasses and "Chinet" (clay-based, paper-coated). The Museum uses 100% corn-based clear containers for prepackaged cold food such as salads and sandwiches.
The Museum retail shops use 100% recycled paper bags and energy efficient lighting.
The Museum no longer uses or sells water in plastic bottles anywhere in the dining areas or for catering. In offices, the Museum eliminated bottled water coolers in virtually all locations and replaced them with filtered tap water systems.
All new exhibits are being designed and constructed to a greener standard using sustainable materials such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved wood.
The Museum estimates that 85% of its visitors come via mass transit or school buses.
Staff and volunteers are encouraged to use public transportation through pre-tax, mass-transit options. The Museum has installed more bike racks for visitors and staff.
The Gilder Graduate School was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified standards by using water efficient fixtures and urinals, energy efficient light fixtures, new sustainable materials including cork flooring and certified wood, reusing and restoring historic floor tiles, and maximizing natural daylight.
Learn more about Sustainability Principles of the American Museum of Natural History