A sustainable built environment is a Swedish value dating back to the 15th century. The Nelson Cultural Center is LEED® Gold certified making the American Swedish Institute the first museum in the state of Minnesota to earn this designation. This award trumpets the holistic approach to sustainability that guided the building's design process from conceptual thinking through construction, and will endure into building operations, occupancy and support over the next 80 years of growth. These values and commitments manifest themselves through design in the outward cues that create a sense of place and a connection to nature for the building users.
Sustainable, or "green" features of the Nelson Cultural Center include:
- A green roof, which provides insulation for the building and reduces storm water runoff from the roof.
- A geothermal heating and cooling system, made up of 96 wells each 250 feet deep, provides energy for the Nelson Cultural Center.
- Careful planning, positioning and extensive use of windows provides abundant natural light and connects building occupants to the site and the outdoors. Lighting controls keep the lights off when they are not needed.