Out-going Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Nunberg introduces the lunch session programming.

Out-going Sustainability Committee Chair Sarah Nunberg introduces the lunch session programming.

This year’s Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) took place in Indianapolis, IN, May 29-June 1, 2013.  The Sustainability Committee organized a sold-out Lunch Session with over 60 attendees.  After enjoying a delicious buffet lunch and casual conversation with colleagues, participants listened to a brief presentation by Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University.  Dr. Eckelman presented the results of three Life Cycle Assessments his students had performed at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts during the spring of 2013: (1) LCA of LED lighting versus halogen lighting; (2) LCA of “coasting” the fans of one wing of the HVAC system; and (3) LCA of museum loans.  For more information on any of these projects, please visit the Sustainability Committee’s section of the AIC Conservation Wiki, or contact one of the committee’s members.

Dr. Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, presents the findings of his students' LCA projects.

Dr. Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, presents the findings of his students’ LCA projects.

In a (very small) nutshell, the  LCA projects determined that:

  • LED lights, in spite of some of their current drawbacks, are still a far more sustainable choice than halogens.  As the technology improves, LEDs are likely to become an even better choice.  When installing LEDs, pay attention to current bulb housings.  Pairing the wrong type of cannister housing with LED bulbs can shorten their life and efficiency.
  • “Coasting” the fans of an HVAC system can lead to great energy savings with a negligible impact on collections materials.  Further study is needed to explore the impacts of coasting other aspects of the HVAC system, such as the heating and cooling elements.  The actual effectiveness of coasting depends on the local environment and the institution in question (building envelope, design of current HVAC system, etc.)
  • The LCA of museum loans is a very complicated issue.  This study examined carbon footprint only, and found that packing materials had far less impact than courier travel and the construction necessary for exhibit preparation.  This LCA has laid the groundwork for further in-depth study of the museum loans process.

After the presentation, lunch session participants broke into discussion groups by table and addressed a list of discussion questions which had been prepared ahead of time by the Sustainability Committee.  The table I was sitting at enjoyed a very lively discussion about options for reducing the impact of couriering artwork for museum loans, and also how to encourage buy-in from upper administrators for moving to a more sustainable model.

AIC2013-Sustainability-03

Sustainability Lunch Session participants during the breakout discussion group portion of the programming.

Overall, the feedback I heard about the Sustainability Lunch Session was very positive.  Participants gained useful information from the LCA projects performed by Dr. Eckelman’s students, and they also enjoyed the opportunity to engage more actively with their colleagues during the breakout discussions.

The Sustainability Committee is partnering with the newly-formed Collection Care Network to develop a General Session program for the 2014 AIC Annual Meeting, so if you are interested in the intersection of sustainable conservation practices, collections care, and preventive conservation, start planning to attend the 42nd AIC Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, May 28-May 31, 2014.

Advertisements