Why does the Museum and Visitor Center landscaping look the way it does?

Natural landscaping at the museum

Every morning this week, the frost has been taking its toll on the wildflowers, grasses and other native plants growing around the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.  Visitors often ask us about the unusual landscaping around the museum–especially this year, when above-average rainfall made everything grow so tall that the place looked more like the Everglades than Gettysburg! 

So why does the museum’s landscaping look the way it does?  The answer has to do with “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”   

The Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center is the first museum in Pennsylvania to achieve a prestigious gold LEED certification–an internationally-recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park are committed to energy efficient and environmentally sensitive design, which includes natural landscaping, wetlands preservation, and geothermal heating and cooling systems.

NATURAL LANDSCAPING – The use of native plants to create meadows is a key part of the environmentally friendly design of the facility.   Native, adaptive, drought-resistant plants are used for the majority of the landscaping.  They require no irrigation which saves on the use of public water. The large permanent planter on the terrace outside the Refreshment Saloon is watered using a system that provides rainwater from the roof above. 

Automobile parking lots are interspersed throughout the 100-acre site to blend into the landscape and break up potential “seas of concrete.”  These lots have been tiered to follow the landscape and shaded with existing or newly planted trees.  Planted areas between the parking bays re-absorb storm water run-off during rainy weather.

These features directly benefit preservation and protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

WETLANDS PRESERVATION – The location of the building and parking lots preserved wetland areas around the building.    For the wetlands areas that were disturbed by construction of the new facility (0.682 acres), the Gettysburg Foundation created new wetlands (1.912 acres) through the restoration of a portion of Guinn Run, the historic stream that runs near the Museum and Visitor Center. 

GEOTHERMAL – The cornerstone of the museum’s energy efficiency is its geothermal heating system, which consists of about 200 wells, each 400 feet deep and 6 inches in diameter, located under the bus parking lot.  Piping in a closed loop system uses the earth’s constant 55-degree temperature to provide most of the museum’s heating and cooling requirements, without burning fossil fuels. 

For more information about energy efficient and environmentally sensitive design at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center go to www.gettysburgfoundation.org.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant

November 3, 2011

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Staff of Gettysburg National Military Park
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4 Responses to Why does the Museum and Visitor Center landscaping look the way it does?

  1. Travis says:

    Pretty cool stuff.

  2. mel says:

    Are there elderberry bushes planted there

    • The Staff says:

      To Mel: I don’t think there are any elderberry bushes in the landscaping on the Museum and Visitor Cneter grounds. There are some very prominent “serviceberry” bushes, also known as June berries. -Katie Lawhon

  3. Jigs says:

    I really like natural landscaping in house. I really wish to create one, so I can stay near to the nature.

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