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Red, White and Blue Goes Green with Eco-Friendly 9/11 Memorial

The new September 11 Memorial & Museum is not just eco-friendly, it’s also a beautiful monument to the victims of 9/11. The new September 11 Memorial & Museum is not just eco-friendly, it’s also a beautiful monument to the victims of 9/11.

The world has changed fundamentally in the 10 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. From the way that we handle national security and potential threats to the importance that we place on conservation and energy independence, America's priorities have evolved. Opening to the public this September 11th to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will not only be a tribute to the nearly 3000 people killed on 9/11 as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, but will also serve as a testament to the new green-minded America.

This memorial will be a permanent replacement to what is commonly referred to as the "Tribute in Light," an installation of searchlights at the Ground Zero site, which have been utilized off-and-on since 2002. The 88 lights pointed upward into the sky, symbolizing the fallen towers and to some, signifying their loved one's journey to Heaven. This tribute, while popular, had been a source of some controversy as well; any hydroponic grower can tell you that electricity is expensive, and the bright lights were also being blamed for confusing certain migrating birds into altered and hazardous flight patterns.

As for the museum itself, rather than remove all of the debris from the collapsed towers, designers chose to use pieces of the buildings, from foundations to the iconic steel "tridents" that were left standing sentinel in the rubble after the towers collapsed.

In 2008, the Municipal Art Society, who had assembled the tribute, decided to make the eco-friendly decision to convert the searchlights to run on biodiesel fuel. They have also been working with the Audubon Society to keep the birds safe, but a permanent solution was still needed, and this year will likely mark the end of this tradition.

Set in the footprints of the Twin Towers, an eight-acre plaza featuring two large reflecting pools with 360° waterfalls, and etched around their perimeter with the names of the fallen, will utilize cutting-edge rainwater collection technology. The main plaza will serve as both a rainwater collection facility and a "green roof" for the museum below. The plaza itself functions somewhat like a giant modified hydroponic flood table, where rainwater, after satiating the trees, drains off into a system of cisterns underground and is stored for use in the two reflecting pools and for irrigation back into the vegetation. In a city that can get 40 or more inches of rain in a given year (even without a hurricane,) this rainwater collection system can accrue almost enough water to independently supply the pools which will, of course, recycle their water.

In addition to the rainwater collection, the plaza, which will eventually be home to 400 shady trees and their insulating root mass, will serve to keep temperatures regulated within the museum below. As for the museum itself, rather than remove all of the debris from the collapsed towers, designers chose to use pieces of the buildings, from foundations to the iconic steel "tridents" that were left standing sentinel in the rubble after the towers collapsed. The decision to leave pieces of the original buildings and use them in the museum is all at once a meaningful, logical, and eco-friendly one. The buildings themselves are the relics on display, and they - along with the memory of those who were lost, and the national desire for a better and safer future - are the real crux of the story told within the walls of the museum. According to their official webpage, the designers' hope is that the museum will provide "references to the past, while signaling hope for the future."

Because the future will likely bring an even more increased focus on the conservation of natural resources like water, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is certainly a step forward in popular conservationist thinking. This eco-friendly memorial shows that, even while remembering and mourning a tragic piece of our past, we can still look forward to, and plan for, a greener tomorrow.

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The new September 11 Memorial & Museum is not just eco-friendly, it’s also a beautiful monument to the victims of 9/11.
Last modified on Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:04

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