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Sustainability

There is no denying that a measure of sustainability must now be incorporated into our conservation endeavors. Given financial and time pressures, habit, and evolving opinions regarding tolerable conditions for collections, conservators must consider not only the interaction of materials and environment to the art and artifacts we treat, but also the production, use, and disposal of materials employed in our work. We must educate ourselves and become aware of our contribution to pollution and waste, and implement more sustainable practices.

These resources are developed by AIC's Sustainability Committee. For more information about them, click here.

Got a Tip?
Have a question or a tip about
how to go green in your conservation practice?
Send it to us at sustainability@conservation-us.org

Suggested Resources

Conservation-wiki - Sustainable Practices
The AIC Conservation Catalogs are a compendium of working knowledge on materials and techniques used to preserve and treat works of art and historic artifacts. The series, begun in 1985 and still in active development, is intended to be updated on an ongoing basis as techniques, technologies, and modes of practice evolve. AIC's Sustainability Committee maintains a a section of AIC's Conservation-wiki on the subject.

38th Annual Meeting Presentation
This presentation at AIC's 38th Annual Meeting, May 11-14, 2010 addressed how conservators add to burgeoning landfills, place stress on waning resources, use toxic products that pollute our environment, and set standards that increase our carbon footprints. We are faced with a complex challenge when we set out to reduce the amounts of energy and materials we use as we try to work in a sustainable manner. The environmental impact of the treatments we choose and the exhibition and storage systems we devise must be taken into account as we make our professional decisions and recommendations.  Options for material choice, and methods for recycling and disposal are evolving as we gain a greater understanding of our environmental impact.   It does not tell conservators how to work, instead it begins to provide information so we can make environmentally conscious decisions with the goal of reducing our collective carbon footprint. Through sound practices and decision making, we can make a positive impact.

Download the PowerPoint and talk notes

Bibliography and Web Resources
Here is a list of bibliographic and web resources to aid conservators and other preservation professionals in their search for useful information.  Resources are organized by subject matter into the following categories:  Museums; Buildings/Construction; Energy/Environmental Management; Chemistry; Health & Toxins; Business & the Workplace; Consumer Choices and Environmental Impact; Consumer Products; Recycling/Waste Management; Blogs.

Read the Bibliography and Web Resources >>

Recycling Tips
Although finding ways to reuse materials is the best way to go green, recycling is an option for those materials you can no longer use. Over 87% of our survey respondents said that they recycle the materials used in their conservation practice when possible. In creating this webpage, we hope to provide easy links for recycling items that are not part of your municipality’s normal recycling collection service. Please submit suggestions to sustainability@conservation-us.org.

View Recycling Tips >>

LED Lighting
A membership survey in 2008 revealed that making environmentally conscious choices for lighting is one of the ways in which conservators have made efforts to “green” their labs and institutions. In 2010 a series of postings on the Conservation DistList and other preservation forums raised questions about the use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) as an appropriate choice for museum collections. While LED illumincation might be considered a “greener” form of lighting, its impact on collection preservation has not been well understood. Steven Weintraub investigated this issue and provided information to the conservation community

Read more on LEDs and light sensitive materials >>

Survey
In October of 2008, a survey was sent to AIC members via Survey Monkey in an effort to evaluate US conservators' current awareness of this topic through 24 questions. Submissions were completed in November of 2008. 548 members started the survey, and 475 completed it, out of a total membership of over 3500.

Read the Survey Summary Report>>

Other Green Resources

Here are a few green resources organized by other individuals and organizations.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
According to the latest edition of Engineering News Record, ASHRAE 189.1 is "greener" than the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA's standard 90.1-2007, and they are pushing for 189.1 to be adopted by local building codes. For more information, visit www.ashrae.org/greenstandard.

Getty Public Lecture: Climate Change and Preserving Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century
On Saturday, November 8, 2008, Frances Anderton, host of KCRW'S DnA: Design and Architecture, moderated a panel of cultural heritage professionals and environmentalists on the ways climate change will impact the historic built environment and how core values of historic preservation—sustainability and reuse of materials—have a significant role to play in addressing this issue. View More Info >>

3rd IIC Round Table: The Plus/Minus Dilemma: The Way Forward in Environmental Guidelines
For over four decades the guidelines for museum environmental conditions have been defined within fairly narrow parameters. While a variety of factors influenced what became standards, the narrowest range of conditions and the greatest insistence on them came when energy was relatively inexpensive, global climate considerations were not yet mainstream discussions, and the technology of HVAC systems dealt more with control than efficiency. View more info >>

The carbon footprint of museum loans: a pilot study at Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales
by Simon Lambert* and Jane Henderson, Department of Archaeology and Conservation, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK (Received 29 July 2010; final version received 22 November 2010)
By using carbon footprints, museum staff can manage the impact of their loan programs on climate change. To measure the environmental impact of loan activities, a new carbon footprinting methodology has been developed. The methodology includes an Environmental Impact of Loans performance indicator, encouraging museums to set and achieve efficiency targets for loan activities. The methodology was developed using data from the Art Department of Amgueddfa Cymru ?? National Museum Wales. Based on this experience, evidence-based recommendations have been formulated to help museums reduce their impact on global warming.
Download full text paper 

PIC Green - an AAM Professional Interest Committee

Established in 2007, this volunteer group is committed to sustaining a network of people who want to advance, learn from, and highlight museum greening projects around the country. The committee holds the philosophy that a museum’s role in the community includes being a conduit for information and building awareness of issues that impact our world today. PIC Green’s focus is to explore and articulate green practices as fundamental underpinnings to all museum missions with a potential triple net effect encompassing economic, social, and environmental issues, internally and externally.

View more

Sustainability Committee

These resources are developed by AIC's Sustainability Committee.

About the Committee
The Sustainability Committee provides resources for AIC members and other caretakers of cultural heritage regarding environmentally sustainable approaches to preventive care and other aspects of conservation practice. Resources may be provided via electronic media, workshops, publications and presentations. It also defines research topics and suggest working groups as needed to explore sustainable conservation practices and new technologies. Previously known as the Green Task Force (GTF),  the Sustainable Committee became a committee in September 2010. Read more about them by going to the Sustainability Committee >>

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