• Sustainable Practices
  • Decision-Making Tools
  • Green Exhibit Checklist
  • Materials Guide

GEC Helpful Hints

 Who should fill out the Checklist?

To get started, it’s best if someone who worked on the fabrication of the exhibit can fill out the material information on the template. Then the full team (designers, fabricators, developers, evaluators, etc.) can meet together to discuss the point values and agree on a final assessment.

Do not be discouraged! Filling out the GEC for the first time can be a daunting task, especially for those without a background in exhibit materials and production processes. It will get more familiar the more you use it. It’s also very valuable to have developers and evaluators as part of the conversation and will help your team communicate in the future.


How do I estimate percentages of materials?

Try to imagine all of the exhibit components broken up into piles. For instance, you would have a pile of all of the materials that CAN be recycled (raw or stained wood, HDPE, aluminum) and a pile of all of the materials that CANNOT be recycled (wood with adhered plastic laminate, acrylic with adhered graphics). Then estimate these piles—are they about 50/50? Or is one pile greatly bigger than the other, 75/25?

The objective is to make a quick visual estimation, not to spend time calculating weights and volumes.


What’s the difference between “Reduce demand for new materials” and “Reduce waste”? They seem similar.

To reduce the demand for new materials, you might choose a material that has already been recycled and is made up of a large percentage of recycled content—like regrind plastic. To reduce waste, you would choose a material that can be recycled after the life of the exhibit, like glass or cardboard.


Can a material earn points in more than one category?

Yes, for example certified wood with no chemical additives would earn points in both the “Reduce demand for new materials” and “Reduce toxic emissions” categories.


Can an exhibit with electronic interactives still receive a high score?

Yes, the objective is not to completely eliminate electronics, but to use them in an appropriate and efficient way. Flashing lights, blaring music, and flat screens with “attractor modes” do not necessarily enhance the exhibit’s learning objectives. But using electronics as an integral part of the interactive experience, adding auto-shutoff modes, and choosing energy-efficient alternatives are a good way to reduce energy demands.


What is an “end of life plan”?

This refers to what happens to the exhibit pieces once the exhibit is retired from the museum floor. If the designer and fabricator can consider this before building the exhibit, much less waste is generated at the end of life. You could design legs and tabletops to be standard, modular components that could easily be reused for a new interactive. You could use materials that can readily be recycled so that most of the exhibit stays out of the landfill. You could consider adaptability and choose an interactive that can be easily refreshed with new graphics or new manipulatives (e.g., switch out an erector set for wooden blocks in a bridge-building activity).


What do we do once we’ve finished a GEC evaluation?

First, you should upload the completed evaluation to the ExhibitSEED website. This allows others to be inspired by your efforts (and will earn you an extra point for Innovation!)

Your institution should also create an organized archive of all of your GEC evaluations. The designers, developers, and fabricators should all have easy access to the archive and be encouraged to consult it frequently as they approach new projects. The “Ways to improve score” would be especially helpful for future project teams.