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The Origins of the More for the Mission Campaign

The More for the Mission campaign centers around the institutional sustainability program at the Minnesota Historical Society.  Recently, we have hit the 2 year milestone for the program, and the MHS Green Team has been working hard to not only track our sustianability efforts, but also to implement strategies that will save the institution money as well as reduce our environmental impacts. 

The More for the Mission campaign helps the MHS achieve it's mission by controlling overhead costs. (Source: MHS Green Team)

However, as a history organization, we haven't really taken the time to share our history during these last 2 years.  As such, this week's blog post looks at the origins of the MHS Green Team, the sustainability vision, and the significance of sustainability on our mission.

The sustainability project started with the efforts of the MHS Green Team. Formed in the fall of 2008, where a mixed team of site managers, and other leaders in the organization, met to discuss possible sustainable projects that could be implemented at our 26 sites.  The team quickly found and implemented loca sustainability efforts at their respective sites.  Mill City Museum began a composting program to reduce the organic waste going to landfills.  Instead, composted waste becomes nutrient rich resources that can be used in gardens or organic farms.  Other sites, such as the Hill House, began to save paper, by reusing the blank sides of printed copies for front-desk messages and other uses. 

The team quickly wanted a larger sustainability effort.  In early 2009, they completed the vision document, “A Proposal for Adopting Institutional Sustainability Practices at the Minnesota Historical Society.”  The document was highly ambitious, outlining short-term and long-term goals that would bring together all sustainability efforts and share them with additional educational and outreach goals. 

One of the key aspects of the sustainability vision at the MHS is the use of evaluation and tracking of progress.  The initial vision document started with an "assessment of internal programs and projects" for sustainability.  Given the wide-range of activities that occur within the MHS, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was selected as the main metric. 
Scope of the greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the MHS. (Source: MHS Green Team)

In order to track GHG emissions, the MHS sustainability program uses standardized methods produced by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the WRI (World Resources Institute).  These methods started as ways for countries and cities to measure their environmental impacts, but were soon adapted so that organizations can monitor their impacts.  Some of the leading companies in the world track their GHG emissions, such as 3M, Pepsi, Toyota, and many others. 

The significance of tracking soon became apparent.  Once the first sustainability audit was completed, there were over 50 strategies that were identified that could save the institution $1.8 million in utility bills and divert 1.5 million kg of greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years. By benchmarking and tracking greenhouse gas emissions and prices, we could come to the conclusion that reducing our energy, water, and resource use, saves money that can go towards fulfilling our mission.

The potential savings identified by the first sustainability audit. (Source: MHS Green Team)

Our second sustainability audit will be released by the end of December, 2012.  This audit will not only provide more utility bill savings for the coming years, but will be an opportunity to verify the implementation of the strategies identified by the first audit.  Get involved by staying tuned to our blog for more information on the first audit, or our upcoming second audit!