Carnegie Museum of Natural History

For more information, contact: Leigh Kish
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
412.622.3361 (0), 412.526.8587 (C)

September 6, 2011


Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve Receives Gold LEED Certification

Rector, Pennsylvania…Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research center Powdermill Nature Reserve has received Gold level LEED certification for the 2006 renovation and expansion to its Nature Center. The certification is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). According to USGBC, an organization’s participation in the voluntary and technically rigorous LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, and environmental stewardship.

            The museum worked closely with architect Pfaffmann + Associates PC and contractor Cavcon Construction to incorporate sustainable materials into the building plans and to recycle and reduce construction waste. This is the second certification for Carnegie Museum of Natural History; Dinosaurs in Their Time received Silver LEED certification in 2010. Powdermill Nature Reserve is managed by the museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems.

             “One aspect of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s mission is to promote stewardship of the earth and its natural resources,” said Sam Taylor, then-director of the museum. “Achieving LEED certification signifies our commitment to conservation. Conservation messages are central to our exhibitions and programming and also our buildings.”

The $5-million-dollar Nature Center project added 10,300 square feet to the existing 3,200 square-foot-building while including a number of eco-technologies. The centerpiece of the renovation is western Pennsylvania’s first Marsh Machine, an ecological wastewater treatment system that uses plants and bacteria to purify and recycle wastewater from the toilets and sinks for non-potable uses. Other technologies include: special HVAC and lighting systems to reduce the amount of electricity generated by fossil fuels; renewable or recycled materials utilized throughout the building, such as insulation, walls, carpets, and sinks; and a permeable parking lot that allows rainwater to return to the soil.

Further information on the many sustainable features at Powdermill can be found on the website, at

 Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems 

Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems engages scientists from partner institutions worldwide to collaborate to understand, manage, and sustain the health of local and global ecosystems. It utilizes the environmental research center Powdermill Nature Reserve as a living laboratory for ecological research and as a site for visiting researchers and educators studying the mid-Appalachian ecosystem. The Center creates interdisciplinary research and educational projects that address some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time: questions regarding changes to the environment—past, present, and future—and how these changes affect life and Earth. The Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems launched in January 2011 and is under the direction of John Wenzel.


Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 22 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website,