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Carbon Inventory Project

    Carbon Day 2023

    June 16, 2023—the first annual Carbon Day marks the launch of results from the inaugural Carbon Inventory Project! The Carbon Inventory Project is the first, comprehensive effort to calculate the cultural sector’s carbon footprint and established a benchmark for the sector. Learn about the importance and impact of this work.

    Carbon Inventory Project (CIP) 2023 Results

    View the project’s results and findings on the CIP 2023 Fact Sheet.

    Results at a Glance

    • CIP participants represented a cohort of 80 museums, zoos, aquariums, historic sites, and science centers.
    • The 80 institutions who participated in CIP manage a combined 20 million square feet of conditioned space, which equates to more than 450 acres. That’s nearly the size of Disneyland Park and California Adventure combined or all of Disneyland in Anaheim, CA!
    • The collective greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the 2022 energy consumption of CIP participants were more than 187,000 metric tons CO2e. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 41,000 gasoline-powered passenger cars.  
    • CIP participants reported an average GHG intensity ranging from less than zero (due to onsite renewables) to approximately 49 kgCO2e/ft2, with an overall average of around 9.6 kgCO2e/ft2. This metric will become increasingly important as more local jurisdictions adopt benchmarking requirements.
    • CIP participants account for about 5% of the estimated 4 million metric tons of CO2e emitted by the entire cultural sector in 2022. If the entire sector made the effort to reduce their annual energy consumption by 30%, the related GHG emissions reductions would be equivalent to the annual emissions of 3 natural gas-fired power plants or 271,000 passenger vehicles.
    • The following estimates, while not available on the CIP 2023 Fact Sheet, were provided by CIP partners at New Buildings Institute.
      • If the entire cultural sector decreased their emissions by 40% they could power 205,000 homes for a year which is almost the entire population of Tacoma, WA, where Environment & Culture Partners is headquartered. This is also equivalent to the annual emissions of 4 natural-gas fired power plants or 362,000 passenger vehicles.
      • AND if the entire sector reduced their annual energy consumption by 50% the related GHG emissions reductions would be equivalent to 5 natural-gas fired power plants or 452,000 passenger vehicles which is more than all the registered vehicles in the entire state of Maine (415,725).


    Thank you to all the participants that contributed to CIP 2023. Some museums participated anonymously; the following institutions opted to share their names as participants in the project: 

    Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Anchorage Museum, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Atlanta History Center, Blithewold, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, Chicago Children’s Museum, Clark Art Institute, COSI, Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Denver Art Museum, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Exploratorium, Hauser & Wirth, Henry Art Gallery, Henry Vilas Zoo, Historic New England, Kansas City Zoo, La Plata County Historical Society – Animas Museum, Long Island Children’s Museum, Madison Children’s Museum, Meeteetse Museum District, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Discovery and Science, Museum of Russian Icons, Museum of Science (Boston), National Nordic Museum, Oakbrook Park Chumash Indian Corporation, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Science Museum of Minnesota, SFMOMA, Smithsonian Institution, The Andy Warhol Museum, The Henry Ford, The Wild Center, Toledo Museum of Art, Wilson Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery


    CIP benefits individual cultural institutions and the entire cultural sector. Use the Communications Toolkit and the promotional blog post from New Buildings Institute to share information about the results from this initiative. For questions or more information, please contact us at

    CIP 2023 Communications Toolkit

    First Annual Carbon Day in June Will Establish a Carbon Benchmark for the U.S. Cultural Sector by Mischa Egolf, Technical Associate, New Buildings Institute

    Next Steps

    The CIP Team and Environmental Protection Agency are collaborating on a survey to create a building performance category for museums in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® (ESPM). The survey will require 200+ participants. To receive communications about the next steps of the CIP initiative, sign up for ECP’s newsletter here.


    For individual institutions, benchmarking energy data is a high-return, low-risk effort for museums with multiple benefits including:

    • Better energy and carbon management decisions
    • Saving money
    • Decreasing their carbon footprint
    • Preparing for pending building-related local policies and building codes

    For the cultural sector, calculating a sector-wide carbon footprint, as CIP is doing, allows for increased accountability and transparency of the sector’s emissions, and opportunity for:

    • Quantitative tracking of progress to decrease the sector’s carbon footprint
    • Setting a carbon footprint reduction goal
    • Holding the sector accountable for their emissions
    • Better recognition of existing carbon footprint reduction activities in the sector
    • Inclusion in reports and studies, including the U.S. National Determined Contributions
    • Easier reporting of energy and carbon data to jurisdictions or for future research on the sector

    Project Background

    The Carbon Inventory Project (CIP) is part of the research project Culture Over Carbon: Understanding Museums’ Energy Use. It is funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant. The project was led in partnership by the New England Museum Association, New Buildings Institute and Environment & Culture Partners. The feedback received during Phase One of Culture Over Carbon identified collecting energy data as the biggest barrier to research participation. CIP provided free training and resources for cultural institutions to organize their energy data and calculate their institution’s carbon footprint associated with energy use October 2022 – June 2023.

    The first annual Carbon Day is June 16, 2023. It will be the first reporting milestone to build sector-wide capacity and commitment to calculating and reducing GHG emissions from energy use.

    Why June 16? The formula for Carbon Dioxide is CO2. The atomic number of Carbon is 6 (June). The atomic number of Oxygen is 8 and there are two which total 16.

    Email us or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about this initiative and future opportunities to participate.


    View CIP webinars on our YouTube channel here.

    Carbon Inventory Project Kickoff: Introduction to Benchmarking on October 31, 2022.

    Attendees learned about the Carbon Inventory Project, how it relates to the Culture Over Carbon project, how to participate, participation expectations and benefits.

    ESPM and You on December 15, 2022.

    Attendees learned how to use Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM).

    Parent Issues: Reporting on January 23, 2023.

    Attendees learned about reporting strategies for museums that are part of a parent organization.

    EPA Staff Presentation on February 23, 2023.

    Attendees learned about Energy Star Portfolio Manager from EPA staff.

    Reporting Delivered and Generated Fuel on March 23, 2023.

    Attendees learned about reporting delivered and generated fuel in a presentation by New Buildings Institute.

    How to Upload Carbon Day Data on April 18, 2023.

    Attendees learned about the form for submitting Carbon Day totals and how to locate Carbon Day data in Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Also shared in this session was an alternative for participants that do not use Energy Star and use another method to measure energy use.

    Participant Experiences on May 25, 2023.

    Attendees learned about the experiences of gathering and reporting energy data from Carbon Inventory Project and Culture Over Carbon participants, Marissa Mayo of Historic New England and Melanie Trottier-Mitcheson from the Museum of Russian Icons.