News Release

July 21, 2016
Low-interest loan supports Seattle Art Museum renovations to save energy and water

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SEATTLE, WA – Thanks to a new low-interest financing partnership, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is becoming more energy efficient and getting greener.

The museum’s main building in downtown Seattle will significantly improve its energy and water systems using $2.8 million in financing made possible by the King County Green Community Initiative and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

“Doing our part for the environment is important in our role as a leading Northwest civic institution,” said SAM Chief Operating Officer, Richard Beckerman. “This financing has enabled SAM to replace and upgrade systems that will not only help us save energy and water, but also provide optimal climate controls for our world-class collection and for the comfort of our patrons.”

SAM turned to the initiative when contemplating upgrades to its main museum location in downtown Seattle, which opened in 1991. Twenty-five years and a major expansion later, the original Venturi building needs upgrades to conserve water and efficiently maintain climate controls that safeguard art and keep visitors comfortable.

The Green Community Initiative provides community groups, nonprofit organizations, and businesses the ability to apply for low-interest financing for projects that conserve energy, water, and promote environmental sustainability.

“One of the finest museums in the country is getting greener,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who proposed the legislation establishing the King County Green Community Initiative. “This partnership is an excellent example of how King County is catalyzing investments that save energy, lower operating costs and improve the customer experience.”

Thanks to the issuance of the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond by the Housing Finance Commission, SAM is financing the improvements with a $2.8 million low-interest loan from banking partner US Bank.

“It’s a privilege for us to enable this Seattle cultural icon to become more energy- and water-efficient,” said Karen Miller, chair of the Housing Finance Commission.

A self-supporting state agency focused on affordable housing, the Commission also supports energy conservation and renewable energy, as well as other community needs.

The improvements at SAM will reduce the museum’s carbon footprint and save the museum money, freeing up funds that would ordinarily be spent on energy and water bills for activities ranging from exhibitions to educational outreach and visitor services. The improvements include:

Heating plant optimization

High efficiency chiller installation, with optimization controls to maximize efficiency

Replacement of select low-efficiency lighting with high-efficiency LED internal/external lighting systems

Installation of lighting control systems

Water conservation upgrades

SAM’s contractor, Seattle-based engineering firm McKinstry, will work with museum staff to install all identified elements over the next six months.


Margret Graham, Communications Manager | desk: 206-287-4409 | cell: 206-454-9058


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