Background

This IMLS National Leadership grant (2021-2023) of nearly $600,000, is an energy assessment project that will provide the sector’s first energy models to support near-term decision-making at any institution and provide the first estimate of the sector’s energy impacts on climate. These benchmarks will inform strategic reductions in line with the goal of avoiding the worst effects of climate change for all. The energy and building consultants of New Buildings Institute will collect and evaluate energy use data from representative institutions in museums, zoos and aquariums, gardens, and historic sites. These models will support data-driven strategic planning and implementation across the sector. In the near-term, this information can help individual institutions reduce operating costs, pursue capital funds, and prepare for expected changes in energy markets.

Very few museums have the ability or resources to monitor and assess their own energy use, especially during this period of economic stress. Yet without this data they are unable to make strategic energy management decisions to save critical funds and reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that worsen the climate crisis.      

The Culture Over Carbon project team includes staff from New Buildings Institute, an eight-person sector advisory team with members from The Field Museum, Detroit Zoological Society, Frye Art Museum, Madison Children’s Museum, Science Museum of Minnesota, Strawbery Banke Museum and Phipps Conservatory, and three technical advisors from Quinn Evans Architects, Linden Conservation Services, and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. NEMA is the lead applicant and Sarah Sutton of Sustainable Museums is the Project Director. The work will benefit substantially from the participation of the Facilities Management Office at the Smithsonian Institution and the support of the President of IAMFA.

Our Role

ECP designed the project in partnership with the New England Museum Association and directs the activities in partnership with NEMA and the New Buildings Institute team.