VIEWS: 10 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 8/3/2011
Exhibition Overview Key take-home messages: • Buildings have a major environmental impact. The built environment is the Sustainable largest single area of energy consumption in the U.S. • There are many ways to make homes and other buildings more energy Shelter efficient, and ecologically sustainable. • Houses are systems, and are part of the larger ecological systems of nature. DwelLing Within the Forces of Nature • There are interesting and useful parallels between buildings and building systems, and animal structures and natural systems. The Sustainable Shelter exhibit explores biodiversity, human and animal architecture, ecosystems, and energy and water conservation—all from the perspective of the “home”. EXHIBITION SECTIONS Functions and Diversity of Shelters Visitors enter a small house. From inside the house, they look out a window to see/hear the forces of nature—rain, wind, snow, cold, heat, light and darkness. Outside the house, visitors explore the amazing diversity of human and animal shelters. Images, specimens and small dioramas of hives, rodent burrows and nests are compared with a variety of human homes from palaces to houseboats to reveal common functions, materials and designs. Energy Systems In this area visitors interact with three multimedia programs to explore the interface of homes and the earth's energy flow and carbon cycle. The Carbon Cycle Cartoon is a humorous animation that introduces visitors to how the flow of carbon results in shifts in the CO2 in the atmosphere and changes in climate. In the Home Energy Game, visitors make a se- ries of choices about simple daily activities that trace energy back to its ultimate source, the sun. They discover that sourcing energy closer to the sun lowers its impacts on the rest of nature. Visitors interact with Energy Flow Projections to discover that they are embedded in natural systems and that these systems are complex and dynamic. The Carbon Cycle Cartoon Sustainability Research Video A mini-theater shows a series of short videos that follow the steps University researchers take as they study energy use and nutrient flow in family households. The scientists are using ecological research methods to study how ordinary people live. The findings, some- times surprising, can help us make informed decisions about how to live more sustainably. Visitors at a mini-theater select from a menu of short programs. Life Cycles of Building Materials All the materials used to build a house come from the earth, and eventually are returned to the earth. A large wall graphic illustrates this life cycle of a house. Visitors then explore in detail three key building materials—wood, steel and concrete. The path of each material is traced from its origin in the earth to its use in homes. Visitors handle the materials and learn that every material comes with a history of embodied energy and other environmental impacts. Wall of Walls Have you ever wondered what’s inside your walls? Here’s the place to find out. Visitors compare the complex internal structure of eight different wall systems. The layers are peeled away so visitors can see each material and how it is assembled. Labels describe the functions of each layer, allowing visitors to compare one system to another. Two complete wall sections including windows and roofs are presented next to each other. One section shows the conventional construction of a typical existing home (built on average in 1970), compared with a section of a home using high performance construction techniques and materials. The internal structure of the walls, windows and roof are revealed. Animals at Home Many animals such as swallows and pigeons, use human homes for shelter. Animal nests are displayed along with a variety of human-built birdhouses and nest boxes. Water in Homes How much water is used in homes makes a big difference to the environment. It takes a lot of en- ergy to treat the water that comes into a house, and to treat the water and wastes leaving a house. A large wall graphic uses dramatic illus- trations to compare a typical household water system to water systems that are much more sustainable. Visitors discover ways to make their own home's water system more efficient. Energy in Homes In the Systems Section, visitors see how energy production has far-reaching impacts on the earth's ecosystems. In this area, a large wall graphic uses cartoon illustrations to com- pare the energy systems of a typical house to a variety of alternative systems that meet our energy more efficiently. Techniques for using renewable sources, passive solar energy and passive ventilation are presented. Visitors learn that well designed homes can capture and store most of the energy needed to meet our needs. Colonies, Hives, Mounds and Burrows Honeybee hive and termite mound. Ants, bees, termites and other social insects have found ways to maintain stable environ- Can we learn from these masters of ments inside their nests without the use of fossil fuels. Are there things we can learn from animal architecture? these seemingly mindless minions? Termites build large mounds with elaborate sys- tems of tunnels. The colony's nest chamber is maintained at optimal conditions while the heat and humidity of the external environment varies greatly. The exhibition in- cludes an actual metal cast of an underground ant colony, a seven-foot high termite mound, and a diorama of the subterranean burrows of a ground squirrel. Model Homes Over Time Visitors compare typical single-family homes at three points in time, 1800s, 1950, and 2010. Each model shows the changing styles of architecture and the changing size of homes. Above each house is a cloud banner representing the relative size of its carbon emissions. Labels compare the area of each house, its construction materials, heating source, water source, waste disposal, energy and water use, and other related data. Visitors are attracted to study the house models, and discover how dramatically our energy, water and material use has increased over time. Energy and Water Interactives The Lighting Test Table allows visitors to compare the light quality of different types of light bulbs and see which ones use the least power. Window Heat Gain compares various windows designed to filter out infrared light to reduce the need for summer air conditioning. In the Permeable Pavement comparison, visitors see how water runs off typical pavement causing flooding and spreading pollutants. On the permeable pavement side, water percolates through to the soil below, where it is filtered, absorbed by tree roots or recharges ground water. The Green Roof Model shows how a living roof can filter water and help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The Electrochromic Window display demonstrates a new technology that can change a window from clear to dark, greatly reducing unwanted heat gain. Build Your Own Sustainable Home Using some simple rules for making buildings more sustainable, visitors construct their own model home. They orient the windows to make use of passive solar heating. Build two stories instead of one to minimize the house’s footprint. Use super-insulated walls and roof to reduce winter heat loss or summer heat gain. Plant trees to provide summer shade and others to shield from winter winds. Visitors can work in groups to discuss the best options. In this fun activity, visitors apply information gained from the rest of the exhibition. (May need staff supervision.) An accompanying wall banner presents four sustainable home case studies. Build-a-Community Table Artist Vaughn Bell has created a living On a low table with a painted landscape top, children use simple wooden toys to build a terrarium inside a glass house. Two visitors community including, houses, farms, schools, roads, railroads, and boats. Special blocks at a time can peek their heads inside of power plants and water treatment plants relate to the surrounding exhibits. After Living Mini-Biosphere to get a new building their community, older children can be asked to consider how they might change perspective of nature in a microcosm. the system to make it more energy efficient, reduce water use and preserve more natural habitat. (May need staff supervision.) CONTACT: Don Luce, 612-624-1342, Education Activities firstname.lastname@example.org The exhibition includes a number of hands-on activities and materials to be used by interpretive staff. Building Homes for Wildlife explores what makes a good birdhouse by researching the special requirements of each species. Visitors then try to match the The exhibit is funded by a grant from the birdhouse to the animal. Animal United States Department of Energy, Structures-House Structures and was developed by the Center for asks questions about the functions Sustainable Building Research, and of various parts of both homes and the Bell Museum of Natural History, animals. How are bones like University of Minnesota. building studs, shells like roofs and fiberglass insulations like down and Bell Museum of Natural History fur? Other activities and materials 10 Church St. SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 explore the diversity of human and www.bellmuseum.org animal homes and the life cycle of building materials.
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