Gateway to the Garden – Keeping Sustainability a Priority

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The Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center is well underway into Phase Two of construction at the Missouri Botanical Garden! With the Gateway to the Garden campaign building the Garden experience of the future, sustainability has been a greater focal point of the planning behind this privately funded effort than any initiative in Garden history.  

“This incredible project showcases the Garden’s commitment to sustainability through construction, long-term operations, and programming,” says Glenda Abney, Interim Vice President of Education and Director of the Garden’s EarthWays Center, the division that of the Garden that promotes sustainable solutions for everyday life and work. “The new building and plantings of the Gateway to the Garden project, when combined with our global change research and community sustainability programs, ensure that we are not just talking about sustainability, we’re really doing the work to make a difference.  

Get some insight on what type of sustainable initiatives are being done during construction of the Garden’s newest building: 

  • Solar panels on the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center’s roof will produce an average of 300 megawatt hours per year, resulting in a reduction of carbon emissions roughly equivalent to the annual output required to power 33.3 homes annually. 

  • A towering Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) from the Garden’s living collections was nearing the end of its life. The tree is being repurposed by a local wood artisan as seating in the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center’s new restaurant, Sassafras. 

  • As part of the new Taylor Center landscape/surrounding area, two  25,000-gallon cisterns, or rainwater storage units, were installed with one on the north and on the south side of the project to collect rainwater to be used for watering thousands of new plants populating the area. 

  • When the Taylor Visitor Center opens in summer 2022, Garden visits will be greener from the moment of arrival. Additional electric vehicle (EV) charging stations will increase capacity for the growing number of gas-free automobiles, including accommodations for accessible parking with an EV. Increased bike parking, as well as a new shower facility for staff, will encourage active, emission-free commutes. 

  • Sustainably designed and built for future growth, the Gateway to the Garden project incorporates current best practices for optimal use with as minimal environmental impact as possible. Concrete cement, rock, and sand used in the project are sourced from local quarries, eliminating the emissions associated with transporting goods across long distances. The limestone and granite cladding on the building’s outer walls is taken from a quarry in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. 

  • Enhanced digital displays and electronic ticketing will be a part of the new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, helping to reduce reliance on printed materials for visitor information. 

  • The Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center will feature low-flow water fixtures to reduce demand on potable water. 

  • Automated mechanical systems will preserve staff and visitor comfort while reducing annual energy expenses by 23% from standard technologies.

“We invite our visitors to join us, learning through the Gateway to the Garden efforts and living more sustainable lives with their experiences at the Garden,” Abney adds. “Working together, we can build a greener future.” 

Fun Fact

As part of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center Project, the Linnean House, constructed in 1882, will return to its original function as an orangery.

Orangeries date back to the 15th century, and their name is derived from their use in overwintering citrus. The Linnean House will again focus on the later period of orangeries, matching its 19th-century construction date, and will display plants from the Mediterranean and arid regions of the world. Planting will begin in the spring.