Environmental Design Elements

Natural lighting and sophisticated temperature and air quality controls provide the ideal interior environment for preserving the Museum’s unparalleled collection of contemporary art and design in glass. These elements also mean the building is an environmentally sensitive and architecturally distinctive structure.

In 2016, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded LEED Silver Certification to the Contemporary Art + Design Wing for its environmentally-conscious efforts. The Museum’s certification was based on the building’s water and energy efficiency, and its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


A close up of white boards across a white wall and ceiling
Light diffusing skylights in the Contemporary Art + Design Wing.

One of the most prominent green features of the gallery building is the use of natural daylight. Because we are a glass museum—and glass loves light—we have the unique opportunity to take advantage of this very green feature in a way that many museums cannot.

Through the use of diffusing roof skylights, the majority of the lighting required to view the art comes from natural light. This allows power consumption levels, associated with the building lighting, to remain well under comparable gallery spaces in other museums. In addition to the natural daylight used to light the gallery, electric high efficiency fluorescent lighting is programmed to complement and spotlight the art by adjusting to changes in exterior natural light levels.

Building Envelope

The building envelope has been carefully tuned both to protect the art and to contribute to the energy performance of the Museum. The majority of the windows and all of the skylights of the building are double glazed insulated glass units. The glass also incorporates high performance low–E (low emissivity) coatings, which help to keep the heat out during the summer and to keep the heat in during the winter; UV filtering coatings on the glass also protects the art from damaging ultraviolet rays.

Temperature and Air Quality Controls

While glass can handle being in natural light, it must still be kept in a climate-controlled environment. The commissioning of the environmental controls systems by a third party was an important phase of construction. Third-party testing confirmed all systems are running optimally and the building is airtight. The building staff is also fully trained on the operation and maintenance of the building systems for optimal environmental performance.


Proposed sketch of the bioretention area outside of the Contemporary Art + Design Galleries
Sketch of the biorentention area by the Museum's loading dock

The landscaping also plays a role in environmental protection. At least half of the storm water from the roof and water from the loading dock area drain into a landscaped bio-retention area, where the right plants and soil types allow the water to filter and percolate back into the soil. Less water is then needed to keep the plants alive.

Header photo by Iwan Baan

Green Initiatives

The Corning Museum of Glass is committed to being a responsible steward.

Contemporary Glass Galleries

Explore 26,000-square-feet of contemporary glass art.

Design Team

The team who brought the Contemporary Art + Design Wing to life.