Manetti Shrem Museum Achieves LEED Platinum Distinction

New Museum Exceeds University’s Goals for Sustainability

UC Davis earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest LEED rating for the new Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. It is the ninth UC Davis project to be platinum-certified in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

“It is far too tempting to take an art museum and make the architecture unique and otherworldly,” said Julianne Nola, Manetti Shrem project manager for the UC Davis Office of Design and Construction Management. “But UC Davis had a vision — realized by our design-build team — for a museum that would reflect the spirit of its place.”

What was achieved, Nola explained, is a building that is architecturally significant, lauded by architecture critics, but one that still achieved — in fact exceeded — the university’s standards for sustainability. “Achieving LEED Platinum acknowledges these goals have been realized,” she said. The U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating was announced in December.

The building, which is across from the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on Old Davis Road, was built on a site designated for an academic building, but the site was vacant and during the last 15 years has been used for temporary parking and construction staging. Designed by associate architects SO-IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and constructed by Whiting Turner Contracting Company, the museum opened to the public in November.

Among the museum’s energy-saving features is LED lighting.

“The LED lighting and controls just make sense for lighting in the galleries — not only do they provide for much less energy use over traditional art lighting, this type of lighting is better for the art — much less harmful in terms of material preservation, less heat load and no ultra violet light from LEDS,” Nola said.

The lights not only adjust to people entering and exiting galleries, but they also respond to the natural light coming in from the museum’s many glass walls and windows. Lights brighten during evening hours, for instance, but dim during sunny days when less artificial light is needed. Lessening the light to which the art is exposed allows it to be displayed for longer periods of time.

Because of lighting and climate control needed for art museums, they are difficult to build green, experts agree. The recently completed National Museum of African American Art and Culture, in Washington, D.C., for example, achieved Gold status.

Recent campus buildings that also achieved the highest LEED status were Veterinary Medicine Research Facility 3B earlier this year and Tercero 3 Student Housing in 2015.

Factors cited in the Platinum distinction for the museum include:

  • Occupants have close access to public transportation, walking and bike paths to core campus and downtown
  • Adjacent carpool parking and alternative fueling stations
  • Stormwater kept on site and filtered through vegetation
  • Site lighting designed to minimize light pollution and energy use while providing a safe environment
  • Reduction of irrigation water by 57 percent with drought-tolerant plantings, drip irrigation
  • Minimum of 20 percent of building materials made of recycled materials
  • A reflective roof
  • Site maintains 50 percent open space

The museum features more than 30,000 square feet of interior space topped by a 50,000-square-foot canopy, which provides partly shaded outdoor space on a 75,000 square-foot lot.

Media Resources

Karen Nikos-Rose, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472,

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