Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change - EDITED

We were given the opportunity to speak at the 2012 Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change conference, this week in Sacramento, California. The conference is extremely timely, as recent cases of extreme weather that are now being attributed by many mainstream media sources as possible proof of climate change, such as in Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover article – “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”

Perhaps it was the nice weather in Sacramento, an ideal sunny 60s during the day, but the atmosphere at the conference was much less gloomy than the article, but no less important in the message. Over 700 professionals, scientists from many fields, and even utility companies gathered at the event to discuss new research and practices on energy-savings strategies that involve behavioral change. As our More for the Mission campaign develops, this conference was a great opportunity to hear other case studies, and research on how best to enact lasting change towards energy reductions. In particular, even the panel that we presented and spoke on focused on so many different approaches and scales of energy-efficiency, it was hard not to think of the potential for our organization and the More for the Mission project. 


SPECIAL EVENT: Minnesota’s Energy Evolution

The Minnesota Historical Society invites you to join distinguished researchers from the Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE) for an exciting presentation reviewing Minnesota’s Energy Evolution in a reception and lecture, December 11, 2012 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Minnesota History Center.

This engaging event will review the history of energy in Minnesota, highlighting the milestones, people, and energy sources used over the years. The presentation includes a dynamic Energy Timeline, outlining our energy past and leading us to envision our energy future.

Come early to discuss Minnesota’s energy past and future with MHS members, energy professionals, energy scholars, and energy policy analysts. Add your voice to the conversation over free refreshments.

This event is sponsored by The Minnesota Historical Society’s sustainability program More for the Mission, which is actively engaged at all of our sites in saving energy, reducing costs, and improving efficiencies.


Do you track sustainability?

Do you track sustainability in a museum or historic site?  The American Alliance of Museums' PIC-Green would like to find out more about what museums are using to implement sustainability in their operations and buildings. PIC-Green is a professional interest committee within the American Alliance of Museums that aims to establish museums as leaders in environmental stewardship and sustainability through education, advocacy, and service.

Please fill out this survey and share your experience tracking sustainability performance in your museums. This may include formal certifications, like LEED, or other sustainability metrics, like carbon footprints. We'd love to hear from in-house sustainability officers, consultants, or design professionals that have worked in museums. All scales of museums are welcome - from the small historic house to a large institution!


Energy Savings in Historic Sites: The Importance of Small Sites

While the map of the overall GHG emissions shows relative priority should go to the largest sites in the urban areas, there is more to draw from the data. Analyzing the GHG emissions further, and incorporating the size of the building as well as occupancy helps us to discover the importance of small sites in an organization-wide sustainability effort that spans many geographically and historically diverse sites.

One of the advantages of quantifying sustainability is the ability to benchmark, or compare across buildings or sites. When looking at greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the Minnesota Historical Society’s 26 historic sites, you can quickly see the relative environmental impacts of each site. The map below shows both the GHG emissions and locations of 19 sites included in the fiscal year 2010 sustainability audit.
 


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.


Remembering the Past

This piece is Rosaura Ramo’s last blog post for our Institutional Sustainability blog. She is currently studying Architecture and Art at the University of Minnesota, where she will be a junior this year. This post is inspired by a lecture from one of her fall classes, Introduction to Heritage Preservation, taught by Greg Donofrio. Thanks and good luck to our great summer intern!

Heritage preservation is a way in which way we preserve the past. While the term is mostly defined as preserving or restoring buildings and monuments of the past, the most important part is keeping that moment in history alive. To remember why we preserved such object or building gives the community understanding of its significance in history. It also gives future generations a sense of of their own history and connection to their community.


Geothermal Energy

The need for sustainable energy solutions is a concern that is brought up frequently for the United States. President Obama expressed his desire for more clean energy projects home while campaigning in Nevada. One of the options that he discussed was geothermal energy. Nevada is currently working with geothermal energy and has realized the benefits of clean energy and lower utility costs. 


Minnesota Energy Timeline

 


Sustainability in the 2012 Olympics


Lighting Choices Part 1 of 3: Basic Light Types

Given the upcoming lighting efficiency upgrade project at the History Center, a post on lighting has been well overdue. Not only is it important to understand the lighting project here in one of our largest buildings, but there can be many lessons to take home from the project.

While it may not have as large an impact as heating or cooling loads, reducing lighting loads is much more tangible for many of us. For example, turning off lights, either by sensor or by switch is much more straightforward than demand-based heating controls. By visibility alone, it is easier to remember to simply turn off a light fixture when leaving the house, even without occupancy sensors. Further, increasing lighting efficiency is also much simpler. There are options for replacing bulbs, retrofitting fixtures, or new fixtures. These upgrades can usually be found at most consumer hardware stores, and they tend to be an affordable option compared to new appliances or heating and cooling equipment. However, there are many nuances to lighting. It is not only purely functional, but creates many spatial and environmental characteristics that can enhance or detract from a space.

In the first of a three part lighting series, we'll discuss basic elements of lighting - types of bulbs and fixtures, and characteristics of each.

Mix of used halogen bulbs from Mill City Museum. (Photo by S. Xu)