Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo

NEH Funds Energy Efficient Cold Storage Project at the History Center

MNHS is proud to have received our second NEH grant for energy efficient cold storage (press release)!  This NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Implementation Grant will allow us to implement the recommendations from our interdisciplinary study on energy efficient cold storage.  In 2012, NEH awarded a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Planning grant to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) to conduct an interdisciplinary study that balanced issues of long-term preservation for film materials.  These issues included preservation metrics, potential energy use, cost for maintenance, as well as investment cost for any recommended system or building upgrades.  At the conclusion of the study in 2014, the interdisciplinary team reduced the broader set of options into a cohesive set of recommendations that include building improvements and specific upgrades of equipment.  When implemented, these recommendations would produce a colder and drier environment that helps preserve film materials longer while concurrently reducing the energy required to sustain that environment.  

New Kelley Farm Visitor Center will be a LEED Gold and B3 Sustainable Building

The Minnesota Historical Society will utilize USGBC’s LEED Green Building Design and Construction Certification system as a way to support the mission of the Oliver Kelley Farm:

“...interpret the history of family farms, Kelley Family, and MN’s agriculture past, present and future to nurture an understanding of where our food comes from and agriculture’s image on our world...”

LEED supports this by guiding an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable infrastructure to deliver this outcome.  It is also responsible for significant market transformation in sustainable building, and is often recognized by general audiences as well as those in the construction industry.  In particular, the team is targeting Gold certification (of Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels).  

Energy-Efficient Cold Storage Recent Publications

Our NEH-funded Energy-Efficient Cold Storage study has been picking up a lot of attention at recent professional conferences!  We presented to mixed crowds at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).  In the fall, we plan to publish an article in the International Association for Museum Facility Administrators (IAMFA) journal - Papyrus.  In the meantime, catch up on the materials we have already shared: 

Sustainability General Session at American Institute for Conservation in Miami

Our energy-efficient cold-storage project was presented to a small group of about 40-50 attendees of the American Institute for Conservation Annual Meeting.  This year's meeting theme was "Practical Philosophy or Making Conservation Work." Sustainability was one of three general session tracks along with practical philosophy and Year of Light.  

American Alliance of Museums 2015 Annual Meeting Green Recap

Did you go to AAM Atlanta 2015 this year?  This year’s AAM Annual Meeting theme, “The Social Value of Museums: Inspiring Change,” had an inspirational message about the role of museums in inclusivity and social engagement.  Sustainability has a role in this as well since it is often defined as a holistic approach to social, environmental, and economic issues.   This was well demonstrated with several sessions and events at this year’s AAM event.  Here is a quick recap and report out of the green events and sessions!  

New Book Features Minnesota Historical Society’s Sustainability Program

This spring (2015), the MNHS Sustainability program was featured in Environmental Sustainability at Historic Sites and Museums by Sarah Sutton.  Shengyin Xu and Matt Hill contributed to the mini-case study titled “Minnesota Historical Society, Dynamic Data and Real-Time Sustainability.”  The piece describes the Society’s use of data and metrics for both decision-making and communication and highlights the importance of sustainability for history organizations.  

Sustainability Feature in Latest Issue of Museum

The latest July / August 2014 issue of Museum features the white paper on sustainability standards developed by AAM's PIC-Green (American Alliance of Museum's Professional Network on Green Museums).  The feature is an excerpt from the full white paper that describes the challenges of museum sustainbility and the current state of standards in the wider sustainability field.  

Minnesota Historical Society's sustainability program is one of the case studies referenced in the white paper for our approach that is "rooted in science and data."

Highlights from APT New York 2013

This year’s Association for Preservation Technology International Conference was in Times Square, New York.   While it was my first time at an APT Conference, I was still very impressed with the level of discussion starting with a great keynote on local conservation issues to a great panel on education and sustainability in heritage preservation on the last day.  I also had the pleasure of presenting on a panel on American and European perspectives on energy efficiency and historic preservation.  The following post includes some highlights from my panel as well as other sessions. 

Water Quality - Softening and Sustainability Issues

Water quality is often overlooked when thinking about water sustainability, but the quality of treated water has a large impact both at the building scale and at the ecosystem scale.  Water softening, which is usually the method for mitigating hard water sources, is not just an issue for building users, but has a large impact on energy use and water quality at a community or regional level.  Some areas with a very hard water supply find that salt-based water softening systems contribute to salinity of natural water bodies, which not only alters water ecosystems, but has impacts for reuse of water in agriculture or municipal water supplies.  For example, irrigating with high salinity water can reduce crop yields, which can be even more problematic as agricultural fertilizer runoff can also contribute to water salinity.  Further, some communities where conventional salt-based systems are very popular have found that municipal water treatment plants have experienced increased costs from having to mitigate higher salinity water.  

AAM Annual Meeting Sustainability Wrap-Up

What a great time at the 2013 AAM Annual Meeting last week in Baltimore!   Among the many highlights of the conference was the new app that organized all program and session information alongside social media and notifications.  This was the first year for the app, so there were still print programs, but there will be some great paper savings next year.  At a larger scale, though, sustainability was featured all throughout the conference.  As a new co-chair on Professional Interest Committee on Green, I met many leaders in sustainability that are doing great conservation work in their own businesses or in museums.   Also, the Summit on Sustainability Standards in Museums produced a great discussion on the challenges and benefits of standardization.  

PIC-Green's MuseumExpo booth.

PIC-Green's MuseumExpo booth at the AAM 2013 Annual Meeting.  Pictured are our very own Matt Hill, and Luke Leyh from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (photo credit: PIC-Green).