The Seward Johnson Center for the Arts (SJCA) at Grounds For Sculpture achieved LEED Gold certification in 2019, marking seminal and groundbreaking milestones for the institution both globally and in New Jersey. This award represents the first Public Assembly project in the world that is certified to LEEDv4.1 standards. It is also the first certified LEEDv4.1 project in New Jersey. At the time of this certification, the LEEDv4.1 standard was the most rigorous green building rating system in the world, according to the U.S. Green Building Council®.
GFS’s LEED certification is the culmination of the institution’s focus on environmental sustainability. The institution prides itself on positively impacting the community through its educational programs and by operating sustainably. LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) focuses on energy conservation, clean environment, and human experience. Being designated as a LEED Gold project demonstrates that we are energy and water efficient, we waste little and recycle well, we live close to where we work, and we’ve created a comfortable work environment for ourselves and our visitors.
Among the projects undertaken toward LEED certification, GFS implemented numerous energy savings measures to minimize the facility’s carbon footprint to the greatest extent possible. Water requirements can be remarkable for a 42-acre garden that hosts upwards of 250,000 visitors per year. GFS features an impressive rainwater management system that collects rain and channels it into ponds on the property. This water is then used to help maintain the diverse, native and exotic flora on the grounds. Paved surfaces are made of permeable materials and a system of gravel beds filter rain water and return it to the local aquifer.
This award marks several years’ work toward sustainability targets. The organization continues to examine ways to further optimize energy and water usage, minimize waste, and maximize recycling across its campus. Future initiatives include implementation of a 600-kW solar installation across the 75,000 square foot roof of the SJCA, anticipated to reduce electricity costs by approximately 90%. Additionally, GFS has partnered with GREENCROWN Energy Advisors and Direct Energy to ensure that 100% of the power consumed by Grounds For Sculpture and The Seward Johnson Atelier comes from renewable sources. This will be the equivalent of taking approximately 100 U.S. homes off the electric grid. By practicing sound environmental stewardship, GFS establishes a firm commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and supporting the health of the environment.