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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).  

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.  

Take the Stairs Winner

The 'Take the Stairs' contest is officially over. Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and to all who took the stairs during our campaign. There were 3 staff members near the top throughout the competition. Congratulations to our winner, Melissa Gagner! She averaged 106,932 steps per week, which is over 15,000 steps a day and 443,012 for the entire 4 week contest! The runners up were Peter McGarraugh (93,114 average per week and 372,457 total) and Jenny Parker (85,953 average per week and 343,819 total). 

Take the Stairs Contest

Since the beginning of the 'Take the Stairs' Campaign 8 weeks ago we have had several requests for a healthy competition tied to the 'Take the Stairs' initiative. The 'Take the Stairs' campaign will be initiating a steps contest. The directions for the contest are below. 

Take the Stairs Update

Two weeks ago the More for the Mission campaign rolled out our ‘Take the Stairs’ initiative. We set out to promote a healthy work environment while conserving both time and energy.

Since the start of the campaign we have received several questions about some of the statistics present on the postcards. Below are some of the statistics we discovered while collecting information about the elevators.

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. 

Minnesota History Center Reduces Energy by over 50%

The Minnesota History Center is noteworthy for many things, from great exhibits to exciting programs.  However, in 2005, it was also noteworthy as being the highest energy consumer on the State Capitol Complex.  Since then, major mechanical system and lighting upgrades have reduced the energy usage by over 50%. Today, the building no longer holds that record and is now using less energy than most office buildings in the region.  The graph below illustrates this change over time in KBTU/SF, combined energy use per square foot of the building.  

Minnesota History Center: Most Improved State Building on the Capitol Complex!

Water bottle filling station on the 4th floor

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.

More for the Mission and Minnesota's Energy Evolution

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.