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.
In the few weeks I’ve been working in the MN History Center building so far, I’ve noticed some of the visible things that are helping to reduce resource use and encourage sustainable behavior- like the water bottle filling stations that make it easy to bring your own reusable bottle rather than a disposable plastic bottle and the junk mail reduction campaign posters. I was interested in hearing more about some of the behind-the-scenes (or in-the-mechanical-room) actions that are resulting in such impressive savings throughout the MHS. Last week I talked with Karen Nichols, Facilities Manager here at the MN History Center and Green Team member, to learn about initiatives in the building to save energy, water and waste.
Shortly after I sat down, Karen proudly shared with me that the MN History Center has seen the biggest savings of any building in the State Capitol Complex. Part of the impetus for making these building improvements was based on an Executive Order from the Governor, to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in state facilities. The energy consumption for all buildings in the Capitol complex is tracked through the State of Minnesota Plant Management Division at the Department of Administration. Based on those numbers, the Minnesota History Center has seen a nearly 60% savings in energy usage over the past 6 years, significantly more than other state facilities and above and beyond the goal of the Executive Order (1). This is especially significant given that in 2005 the History Center was the Capitol Complex building with the highest total energy use.
Thanks to those of you who attended the More for the Mission and Minnesota's Energy Evolution event on December 11, 2012. Despite the icy roads, we had a good turn-out, and a great discussion afterwards.
For those that you that may have missed the event, or that would like to rewatch the lectures, below is the recording of all the presentations - an introduction to the More for the Mission program at the MHS, an introduction to Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE), Minnesota's Energy Evolution, and a case study of the Minnesota History Center's energy efficiency efforts.
This guest blog post is by Angela Vreeland and Chris Plum from Center for Energy and Environment (CEE). Angela is a project engineer for the Public Buildings Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program (PBEEEP). Chris is a Program Manager at CEE and is the Program Manager of the State Government Public Buildings Energy Efficiency Enhancement Program (State PBEEEP). CEE will be presenting on the Evolution of Energy in Minnesota at the More for the Mission event on December 11, 2012. To find out more and register for the More for the Mission event, re-visit this blog post.
The Minnesota History Center is a relatively new building which is primarily used as a museum, with public areas, exhibition spaces, classrooms, storage spaces for valuable artifacts, a library and conservation laboratories. Several hundred thousand people visit the History Center every year, about half of them in school groups. The building was built to the Minnesota Building Code and its energy use of 160 kBtu/square foot (about $2 per square foot) was typical of many museums. It was nonetheless noteworthy in 2005 as the building on the capitol complex with the highest total energy use. Not only is that no longer true, but the building now uses the same amount of energy as an average building in the Capitol complex and less than many office buildings in the Upper Midwest.
What did the staff that manages the state’s buildings (the Division of Plant Management in the Department of Administration) do to achieve these impressive results? Read more...
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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)