Sustainable Preservation Practices

Sustainable Preservation Practices

IPI’s environmental research activities provide practical solutions for libraries, archives, and museums to achieve sustainable environmental management strategies that achieve the best possible preservation environment while using the least amount of energy necessary. The process of implementing energy-saving strategies, while maintaining or improving preservation quality, requires a series of carefully defined, risk-managed steps that test individual energy-saving strategies to identify the appropriate final approach for a unique collection, space, and mechanical system. While no single solution will work for every institution, there are a series of practical energy-saving strategies that will work in some combination for nearly any collecting institution.

In collecting institutions an environmental management team that includes both collections and facilities staff creates a structure in which the insights gained from environmental monitoring are actively used to inform environmental management. Institutions that have been most successful at the team approach to environmental management are able to implement regular meetings of collections and facilities staff to review data, discuss strategy, plan for changes, and generally inform each other about what is going on in their respective worlds. Environmental data drives these discussions, and therefore starting with a well-established monitoring program is essential.

32

States Consulted In

IPI advises collecting institutions nationally and internationally.

$1.5M

Awarded in Research

Multiple research grants have informed IPI’s resources and consulting services in sustainable preservation practice.

20+

Years of Research

IPI has conducted research for over 20 years in environmental management.

Recent Initiatives

Integrating Risk Assessment for Pollutants into Energy-saving Strategies for Sustainable Environmental Management of Collection Storage Spaces

Integrating Risk Assessment for Pollutants into Energy-saving Strategies for Sustainable Environmental Management of Collection Storage Spaces

Integrating Risk Assessment for Pollutants into Energy-saving Strategies for Sustainable Environmental Management of Collection Storage Spaces

Energy-saving strategies for mechanical system operations such as temporary system shutdowns, fan speed adjustments, and outside air reduction are proven effective ways to maintain or improve the preservation quality of a collection environment while reducing the financial burden and carbon footprint of a collecting institution. However, current criteria guiding safe implementation of energy-saving strategies focus on temperature and relative humidity alone, which ignores the significant risk to collections posed by outdoor and indoor-generated pollutants. This project will address that problem by developing a methodology for monitoring room-level pollutant concentrations while implementing these energy-saving strategies and then analyzing that data to quantify and respond to risks.

Funded by:
National Endowment for the Humanities

Award:
$350,000

Project Dates:
2021 - 2024

Principal Investigator:
Kelly McCauley Krish

Cost-Efficient and Environmentally Responsible Preservation Methods for Preparing Paper-Based Objects for Transit and Display

Cost-Efficient and Environmentally Responsible Preservation Methods for Preparing Paper-Based Objects for Transit and Display

Cost-Efficient and Environmentally Responsible Preservation Methods for Preparing Paper-Based Objects for Transit and Display

This three-year research project will explore the most cost-efficient and environmentally responsible methods of preparing paper-based collection objects for transit and display while also maintaining preservation standards. The project will include both field and laboratory research. The project team will collect environmental data from multiple museums’ shipping crates simultaneously. Laboratory experimentation will include testing the safety and relative humidity buffering capacity of crate packing materials and methods, and varied microenvironment-sealed frame package designs used to protect objects during transit and display. Guidelines from this project will be useful to all museums with exhibition and loan programs and have the potential to reduce the cost and material waste associated with thousands of museum objects prepared annually for transit and display.

Funded by:
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Award:
$429,409

Project Dates:
2020 - 2023

Principal Investigator:
Al Carver-Kubik

Training Sustainable Environmental Management Teams for Cultural Institutions

Training Sustainable Environmental Management Teams for Cultural Institutions

Training Sustainable Environmental Management Teams for Cultural Institutions

This two-year project is focused on improving and increasing the capacity of humanities collections professionals to independently establish and maintain sustainable environmental management programs. In cultural institutions an environmental management team that includes both collections and facilities staff creates a structure in which the insights gained from environmental monitoring are actively used to inform environmental management. Webinars and workshops will provide essential knowledge and skills necessary for small, mid-size, and large institutions working to balance the preservation quality of collections environments with responsible building management and lower energy costs. This project has the potential to simultaneously improve the long-term preservation of humanities collections across the US while reducing the long-term costs associated with preserving those collections.

Funded by:
National Endowment for the Humanities

Award:
$199,801

Project Dates:
2019 - 2020

Principal Investigators:
Christopher Cameron
Kelly McCauley Krish

Resources

IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies for Collections Environments

IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies for Collections Environments

IPI’s preservation environment studies have explored the feasibility and effectiveness of intentional HVAC shutdowns, temperature and RH setbacks, the implementation of HVAC-controlled RH profiles, and the impact of temperature transitions on moisture content in hygroscopic collections materials. In 2017, IPI completed an online guidebook, IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies for Collections Environments, that outlines the IPI methodology for establishing sustainable environmental management programs in cultural institutions. The goal for the guidebook, a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, was to produce a resource specific to cultural institutions that professionals can use to identify, test, and assess implementing energy-saving strategies in collections spaces without the assistance of external consultants.

Download IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies for Collections Environments

Sustainable Preservation Practices

The cost of energy to heat, cool, and dehumidify can be a significant portion of an institutional budget, and a necessary investment for collecting institutions obligated to provide the best stewardship possible to the materials in their collections. Finding the appropriate balance between preservation and resource allocation goals is a process unique to each institution, based on their specific situation. Join a webinar, attend a workshop, and explore many resources on this topic at ipisustainability.org.

Learn more and explore ipisustainability.org