Early ‘Olympic’ Gold for GRAM

gramgoldbigElite athletes aren’t the only ones striving for the gold. Any new construction that is enrolled in the U. S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program dreams of earning a Gold ranking, second only to platinum. Now that the U.S. G.B.C. has finished its formal review of all the environmental documentation from the construction of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, they have tallied the points and made the announcement.

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded a Gold ranking to the new GRAM officially making it the greenest museum on the planet! The $75 million, 125-000 square-foot GRAM incorporated energy-saving technologies in everything from the heating system to the windows to the plumbing and the lights. They even installed bike racks to encourage visitors to leave their cars at home.

This historic undertaking began in 2000 when Peter Wege, head of The Wege Foundation, offered $20 million to erect a new art museum for Grand Rapids. He had only one stipulation. The museum had to be built according to LEED’s green construction protocols. The size and type of building—housing works of art that require complicated air and light conditions—made the job even more challenging. It also made winning the Gold certification more rewarding.

Because of his $20 million-plus donation, the largest single gift ever to an art project in Michigan, the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s board wanted to rename it the Wege Art Museum. Peter Wege’s reply was typical of his low-profile style. While thanking the board for their kind offer, his refusal was clear.

“This art museum doesn’t belong to the Wege family, it belongs to the people of Grand Rapids. That’s how the name is going to stay.”