Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center Wins Sustainable Innovation Award

Chumash Sustainable Innovation Award
L-R: Rick Fochtman, Executive Vice President for Bernards; Nick Gianis, Museum Operations Manager for the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center; and Nicole Sandoval, LEED Green Associate/Sr. Project Manager for Bernards.

SANTA YNEZ, CA – The Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center, slated to open in 2024, has been honored for its water conservation design and efforts during the 13th Annual Sustainable Innovation Awards, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles (USGBC-LA).

The Sustainable Innovation Awards affirm a project team’s commitment and leadership to create a sustainable environment. The awards are merit-based, for built and designed (unbuilt) projects, that go above and beyond in demonstrating innovation, sustainable strategies and exemplary performance in the fields of sustainability, occupant health and community engagement.

USGBC-LA recognized the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center for its innovative use of greywater and blackwater systems. Water is reused throughout the museum site for toilet flushing and irrigation, in turn reducing the need for potable water by 100 percent. USGBC-LA noted the museum’s use of highly efficient irrigation controllers that help maximize water conservation in the Santa Ynez Valley’s distinctive arid climate and also praised the project’s water-efficient landscaping, which incorporates drought-resistant native plants.

Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center

The award is especially significant for the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center because its water conservation project was one of 30 projects submitted for this category. This recognition is a testament to the tribe’s commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability.

“Water has always been valued as a precious resource within our tribe,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “We are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles for our ambitious water conservation project. This environmental achievement is a product of the proactive collaboration between the tribe and the museum’s architects and is an example of our commitment to being good stewards of our ancestral land. We look forward to introducing our beautiful, one-of-a-kind facility to the public when we open our doors later this year.”

The 14,000 sq. ft. Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center features architecture reflecting Chumash culture, including a Welcome House, Heritage House, Traditional Tule House, Samala Language House and a Tomol House that symbolically combine to represent a village. The 3.5-acre adjoining cultural park features over 11,000 California native plants, including over 140 species, used by the Chumash.

The museum was designed by the Seattle-based, award-winning firm Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects, and the project was managed by Summit Project Management of Culver City. Bernards, a California-based construction company, provided general contracting and construction services and submitted the museum project to USGBC-LA for award consideration on behalf of the tribe.

In all, 17 projects were awarded, from cultural and financial institutions to retail distribution infrastructure and affordable housing.

“We are incredibly proud to have seen the scope and impact of our community engagement, education and policy work grow so much over the past year, expanding our initiatives around wildfire defense, indoor air quality and water conservation while more than doubling the number of people participating in our training programs,” said Ben Stapleton, Executive Director for USGBC-LA. “The increasing scope and scale of the climate crisis demands more innovative solutions. We look forward to extending our impact in 2024 to issues around extreme heat, clean construction and workforce development to create a more sustainable, resilient and equitable region for all the people of California.”