Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are energy savings in museums now out the window?

I keep reading in the mainstream press that the financial meltdown is going to significantly set back the course of combating global warming, as economies battle to avoid the ravages of recession.

But I think there is a ray of hope in the museum area, namely the potential to reduce energy consumption. Whether or not this is driven by environmental or ethical concerns, museums are at last addressing for the potential cost savings how they combat their love of highly controlled air conditioning systems.

Alright, I plead guilty to being a conservator, the profession that has largely dictated the need for these controls to provide stable environment for collections. But we have done so driven by our mandate to ensure the preservation of these collections and rarely had push-back from the engineers as to the cost of doing so. I wonder how many conservators have ever had a conversation with their museum finance department about the energy cost of achieving the recommended levels of climate control.

But like it or not, we now need to engage, not least to play our part in cutting energy costs. Solar panels and rooftop wind turbines are all well and good but they are expensive to buy and install. In the first instance let’s look at providing low-tech solutions such as proposing double sets of entry doors to keep out the heat and cold, or ensuring all wet coats and brollies are left in cloakrooms to reduce the load on dehumidification systems.

1 comment:

  1. If you really want to do something to reduce energy in your museums, get rid of all incandescent lights and replace them with efficient fluorescents and ceramic metal halide lamps.