Press Contact: Trish Palao, Marketing and Communications Manager
Montshire Museum of Science, One Montshire Road, Norwich, VT 05055 

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Sustainable Shelter: Taking Cues from Nature

Jan 10, 2014
For Immediate Release

What can we learn from nature to make our dwellings a sustainable part of the earth’s natural environment?

What can we learn from nature to make our dwellings a sustainable part of the earth’s natural environment? Shelter is a universal human need—and a need humans share with other living things. Because buildings consume lots of resources and almost half of all the energy used in the United States, it’s important for us to make them more efficient.

Visitors will see innovative home-building technologies and learn about strategies that can help restore the health and viability of natural systems in Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling within the Forces of Nature, at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt., February 1 through May 26, 2014. The exhibition explores biodiversity, human and animal architecture, ecosystems, and energy and water conservation—all from the perspective of the “home.”

Just as birds select and gather materials from their local environment to fashion safe and nurturing nests, humans use natural resources to build homes to meet an array of needs and desires. But although shelters in the animal kingdom work in tandem with natural cycles, human shelters typically consume more than they need in natural resources. Sustainable Shelter investigates the way human dwellings extract, use, and discard energy, water, and other natural resources.

Through graphics, cartoons, interactive computer games, model homes, and mock shelters, visitors can explore how ordinary activities—such as reading a book or drying clothes—impact the planet’s carbon and water cycles. The exhibit also compares human dwellings with those of other animals, offers a cross-cultural look at human dwellings from around the world, and examines the changes in building methods and consumption patterns of U.S. houses over the past 150 years. Visitors will also get the chance to try out ways to make their own home more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable with hands-on exhibits. Children will enjoy the many interactive features of the exhibit, including the opportunity to poke their heads into an oversized terrarium, two at a time.

Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling within the Forces of Nature was produced by the Center for Sustainable Building Research, and the Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota. Major funding for the exhibition was provided by the United States Department of Energy.

Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling within the Forces of Nature includes the following:

• Forces of Nature Theater
• Animal Nests and Structures
• Diversity of Shelter Wall
• Carbon Cycle Animation
• Energy Flow Projection Wall
• Home Energy Game
• Life Cycle of a House
• Energy Use in Homes
• Water Use in Homes
• Life Cycles of Common Building Materials
• Sustainability Research Mini-Theater
• Diversity of Wall Systems
• Compare Typical to Sustainable Construction
• Water and Energy Interactive Displays
• Models of Typical Houses Over Time
• Build Your Own Sustainable Home Activity
• Life-sized Ant Colony and Termite Mound
• Living Mini-Biosphere