SUMA exterior

[Photo: Tim Hursley]

SUMA Defined Design

[Photo: Tim Hursley]

The Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) minimizes its carbon footprint with a number of green features—from using recycled materials with little to no VOCs to energy-efficient plumbing fixtures.

Designed by Brooks + Scarpa, the building immediately stands out with its canyon-like roof. The 120-foot cantilever roof covers the entire museum as well as a sheltered event space. The roof’s shape is not just for aesthetics, though; it also shades the west-facing glass facade, reducing direct solar gain, which helps protect the art from sun damage. The museum’s light-colored exterior walls also reduce heat gain, while its windows maximize daylighting.

SUMA roof

[Photo: Dino Misetic]

In addition, the unique roof allows for stormwater collection. The sloped sides redirect water into concealed wells, which then regenerate the collected water into the aquifer. The museum also conserves water through dual flush toilets and hot water circulators.

But museums also have the challenge of illuminating artwork while conserving it. SUMA uses 100% high-efficiency LED lighting. Movable displays contain their own lighting systems, so lighting is only used when and where necessary.

To offset the high energy costs of running a museum, SUMA uses a trigeneration system with radiant heating and cooling, as well as programmable thermostats that adjust ventilation rates based on occupancy. This smart mechanical system provides cooling and heating only when and where needed, saving on energy and utility costs. As a result, SUMA reduces its heating and cooling loads by 45%.

SUMA Interior

[Photo: Tim Hursley[

Heating and Cooling Loads

The heating load is how much heat energy would need to be added to a space to maintain a comfortable environment, while the cooling load is the amount of heat energy that would need to be removed.


A cantilever is a projecting beam or girder anchored at one end. Cantilever construction is often used for overhangs to create a covered exterior space that is not blocked by external supports.

SUMA exterior road view

[Photo: Tim Hursley]


Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are organic compounds that easily turn into vapors or gases. These compounds often contain carbon and are very hazardous, posing major health risks, according to the EPA.

Dual Flush Toilets

Dual flush toilets give the user a choice of flushes to manage solid and liquid waste differently, helping to conserve water and energy.