From the National Museum Directors Council:
NMDC recognises that museums need to approach long-term collections care in a way that does not require excessive use of energy, whilst recognising their duty of care to collections.
There is general agreement within the international museums community that it is time to shift policies for environmental control, loan conditions and the guidance given to architects and engineers from the prescription of close control of ambient conditions throughout buildings and exhibition galleries to a more mutual understanding of the real conservation needs of different categories of object, which have widely different requirements and may have been exposed to very different environmental conditions in the past.
The Bizot Group – the group of the world’s leading museums – agreed the Bizot Green Protocol in 2015. NMDC adopted these standards and hope they act as guidance for the rest of the museum sector.
Bizot Green Protocol
1. Guiding Principles
Museums should review policy and practice, particularly regarding loan requirements, storage and display conditions, and building design and air conditioning systems, with a view to reducing carbon footprints. Museums need to find ways to reconcile the desirability of long-term preservation of collections with the need to reduce energy use.
Museums should apply whatever methodology or strategies best suit their collections, building and needs, and innovative approaches should be encouraged.
The care of objects is paramount. Subject to this,
- environmental standards should become more intelligent and better tailored to specific needs. Blanket conditions should no longer apply. Instead conditions should be determined by the requirements of individual objects or groups of objects and the climate in the part of the world in which the museum is located;
- where appropriate, care of collections should be achieved in a way that does not assume air conditioning or other high energy cost solutions. Passive methods, simple technology that is easy to maintain, and lower energy solutions should be considered;
- natural and sustainable environmental controls should be explored and exploited fully;
- when designing and constructing new buildings or renovating old ones, architects and engineers should be guided significantly to reduce the building’s carbon footprint as a key objective;
- the design and build of exhibitions should be managed to mimimise waste and recycle where possible.
For many classes of object containing hygroscopic material (such as canvas paintings, textiles, ethnographic objects or animal glue) a stable relative humidity (RH) is required in the range of 40 – 60% and a stable temperature in the range 16-25°C with fluctuations of no more than ±10% RH per 24 hours within this range. More sensitive objects will require specific and tighter RH control, depending on the materials, condition, and history of the work of art. A conservators evaluation is essential in establishing the appropriate environmental conditions for works of art requested for loan.
Following publication of NMDC guidelines and an investigation by the AHRC/EPSRC Research Cluster, the British Standard Institute consulted on and published Publicly Available Specification 198: Specification for managing environmental conditions for cultural collections. This standard reflects research conducted since the publication of environmental guidance for museums, libraries and archives in British Standard 5454 (2000). The PAS 198 suggests users:
- Evaluate the sensitivity of their collection in response to temperature, relative humidity, light and pollution, recognising that different materials react in different ways to agents of deterioration;
- Think holistically and put in place an environmental strategy appropriate for the collection (and which takes into account the expected lifetime of the collection);
- Make decisions about suitable environments on the basis of the significance, condition, use or display of those specific objects.
NMDC guiding principles
NMDC developed a set of guiding principles for rethinking policy and practice with the aim of minimising energy use in 2009. The guidelines were developed in consultation with UK conservators, ICON and the National Trust among others. NMDC members agreed to commit to these guidelines, signalling a move towards a less energy intensive approach to collections care. The guidelines were accepted by the European Bizot Group of major museums at their May 2009 meeting.
From Places Matter:
Sustainable low carbon building services: how can historic industrial buildings overcome the challenges?
Brierfield Mill, a case study for textile mill regeneration involving the application of the latest low carbon technologies and techniques at former industrial sites.
This free day event provides an opportunity to understand how new technologies in sustainable mechanical and electrical systems can be applied to industrial rehabilitation and how design teams and other professionals can better utilise new techniques to manage the design and development process when breathing new life into former industrial heritage.
The day will include an opportunity to visit the historic Brierfield Mill and to see varied solutions to the different buildings on site. There will be discussion around the most effective ways to retrofit 21st century systems into historic industrial buildings. There will be case studies of other sites and an opportunity to question the design team on their approach to solutions for heritage sites generally and former industrial buildings in particular.
Please note: Briefield Mill will be open for a site visit but transport will not be provided.
Booking terms and conditions
- Places are strictly limited, advanced bookng is essential
- Places at this event are free of charge, however we reserve the right to charge an administration fee of £30 +VAT for no-shows or cancellations made less than 2 working days before the event.
To book please visit Places Matter’s eventbrite page
Museum Freecycle UK, was launched last week and aims to provide a platform for museums to offer each other showcases and other exhibition build items that would otherwise be discarded.
Caroline Keppel-Palmer, the managing director of Urban Salon, which founded Museum Freecycle UK, said: “As exhibition designers, we are only too aware of the waste that temporary exhibitions generate.
“Museum Freecycle UK provides a simple online tool to help us make exhibition build budgets go further, create more engaging experiences for museum visitors and reduce waste.
“Museum Freecycle UK is the first industry-wide and national Freecycle group created. We will learn as we go. We look forward to working with the museum sector to evolve the network and to continue to help museums reuse materials.”
AIM are pleased to announce it is launching a new initiative to support member museums and heritage organisations to reduce their energy costs through bulk buying their energy supplies.
Museums and heritage organisations, like all businesses across the UK, are facing rising costs in energy. Searching the energy market to find the most competitive quotes can be very time consuming. It can also be complicated if you have contracts with more than one supplier, or contracts across a number of different sites. The AIM Energy Action Group can undertake this work on your organisation’s behalf.
The AIM Energy Action Group, is a partnership with DTA Wales and Touchstone Services and offers a range of services to make reducing your energy costs as simple as possible, including:
- Reviewing your current bill and supply costs
- Providing competitive, no obligation energy quotes
- Providing an opportunity to join a bulk buying energy basket
The AIM Energy Action Group can review your current energy contract and establish whether you are over paying. As an energy contract comes to an end, it is usual for an organisation to be put onto a higher ‘out of contract’ tariff. The AIM Energy Action Group will be able to review your tariff and explore the market for more competitive quotes. All quotes offered by the AIM EAG are free, and there is no obligation to take them up. If you do take up a contract through this initiative, you will also be offered the opportunity to join a bulk buying energy group and reduce your energy costs further.
Many commercial and third sector organisations are coming together to work with energy brokers to reduce costs. Some AIM members, such as the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, have already benefitted from being part of an Energy Action Group and have taken up new energy contracts that are saving them considerable amounts of money. Other organisations have moved into bulk buying groups and are making more savings on their energy contracts.
The AIM Energy Action Group is easy to join and is free to all AIM members. Membership of AIM starts from as little as £40 a year and is open to all museums, galleries and heritage attractions, including local authority museums. As well as access to the AIM Energy Action Group, those who join will get all the other benefits of AIM’s advice and support on income generation, volunteering and many other areas. More information is available on AIM’swebsite.
The application process is now open for places on the Green Museums programme. MDNW are fully funding 20 delegates to work with sustainability experts Nicola Percival and Helen Ridgwick on developing the delegates’ leadership skills and reducing their museums’ carbon footprints.
The course starts in April 2014 and will run until February 2015.
Applications are invited from staff and volunteers working in museums in the North West. Priority will be given to those from museums which have not previously taken part in the Green Museums programme.
Please see guidance and the application form for details. For further details please contact one of the MDNW team. Completed applications should be emailed to Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Friday 7th March