Interview with Craig Johnson Part II: Sustainability at James J. Hill House and in Craig's Life

This interview was conducted by Yixuan Cai, our Summer 2015 Sustainability intern. Yixuan co-wrote this post with Shengyin Xu. It was edited by Samuel Courtier.

Drawing room of the James. J Hill House

Craig Johnson: "Yes, it's true that it is a place of conspicuous consumption---they had way too much and no one needs all that---, yet many of the choices they made were much more sustainable than the ones we make today.”

Craig Johnson discusses Sustainability at James J. Hill House and in his personal life.

At first glance, it may appear that James J. Hill House has little to teach us about Sustainability. Indeed, as the Gilded Age mansion of the 'Empire Builder,' Hill House seems to embody extravagance and---borrowing terminology from Craig---'conspicuous consumption.' However, during our interview, Craig shed light on the variety of opportunities he's found for incorporating Sustainability into the Hill House's story and day-to-day operations.


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.  


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.  


Fossil Free and Fossil Fuel Divestment

Due to increased public awareness and pressure on natural resources, sustainability initiatives are slowly evolving into mainstream priorities for countless institutions, organizations, and even governments.  Groups have adopted sustainability practices, invested in new technologies, and integrated them into their everyday operations.  Recycling bins, energy efficient light fixtures, and efficient building plans are all on the way up.


How to Save Energy at Home & at Work Video

For those who were unable to attend the Lunch and Learn event with the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), here is a YouTube link to the full presentation and slide deck.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN8TAlOnPLU

Thank you again to all who were able to attend!


The Latest IPCC Report Brings Tough News

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its most recent report on climate change and the news is not good.  Having tracked climate change since 1988, the IPCC calls this report a "wake-up call" and declares that the opportunity to fend off drastic climate change is limited.  This is not a problem of the future either; the effects of climate change are already being experienced.  


Lunch and Learn: How to Save Energy at Home & at Work!

Join us and the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) for free training on how to reduce your energy use at work and save energy and money at home.  

Monday, November 3 from 12:30 to 1:00.  Location to be provided after registration.  
Register here.  The deadline to register is October 31. 


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."