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Natural History Museum of Utah and Rocky Mountain Power Work to Make Rio Tinto Center a Model of Energy Efficiency

Annual Electrical Energy Cost Savings Expected to Exceed $22,000


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah and Rocky Mountain Power announced today a proactive partnership to increase the energy efficiency performance and showcase forms of energy and their use at the Rio Tinto Center, the new home of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The multi-faceted partnership supports state-of-the-art energy efficiency measures, a renewable energy system, and an innovative public education component in the form of an energy trail throughout the new exhibitions to tell the complete story of energy. The value of the support, including potential energy efficiency incentives, totals approximately $300,000.

"For nearly five years, we've worked together to forge a true partnership to benefit not only the Museum itself but also the university, the community, and the entire state of Utah," said Sarah George, executive director of the museum. "Our partnership has been key to our goal of reaching LEED Gold certification for Green Building Design," said George.

Early on, Rocky Mountain Power collaborated with the Museum's architectural and engineering teams about strategies to achieve energy savings in the new building. As a result of their work, electrical cost savings are expected to exceed $22,000 a year.

The energy partnership includes $125,000 from Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky Renewable Energy program to help fund a 52.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that will be installed on the Museum's roof later this year. This is a key first step toward the Museum's vision of building a solar array across the entire roof in partnership with the University and the State of Utah. The Blue Sky renewable energy program supports commercial renewable energy projects in western states and also local community-based projects. The program has supported 50 projects of this kind in Utah, and this is the second Blue Sky project at the University of Utah.

In addition, Rocky Mountain Power pledged support of $90,000 through both a corporate contribution and a grant from Rocky Mountain Power Foundation to focus attention on energy through an "energy trail" to guide and inform future visitors. The new exhibitions will offer several themed trails, providing visitors a related and in-depth look at a particular topic in the natural sciences.

"Rocky Mountain Power congratulates the Museum team for not only creating a Gold LEED building, but also for having the foresight and the imagination to use the building itself as an educational tool to showcase energy and energy efficiency," Richard Walje, company president. "Rocky Mountain Power appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Natural History Museum of Utah and the University of Utah to maximize energy efficiency of the new building, to help our customers and other visitors learn about energy and energy efficiency, and to support use of a renewable energy resource," said Walje.

The Natural History Museum of Utah, an active research institution located at the University of Utah, is the state's natural history museum and cares for over 1.2 million objects. In addition to providing unique natural history experiences to Utah residents through exhibits, special events, and programs on site, the museum offers a variety of outreach programs to communities and schools, reaching every district in the state during the year. The Museum's new building, the Rio Tinto Center, will open this fall.